Shadow's Enigma

by Note Sketch

First published

With his dark past heavy on his mind, Sombra is put to the test as he begins a reformation process. Though his mind is no longer crowded with the influence of dark magic, his heart is none the lighter. Let the test begin.

With his dark past heavy on his mind, Sombra is put to the test as he begins a reformation process. Though his thoughts are clearer and no longer crowded with the influence of dark magic, his heart is none the lighter. Will Pinkie's motto of "Giggle at the Ghosties" be enough to turn a tyrant good? Or Will Sombra succumb to the power of dark magic once more? But more importantly, will the reason for his tyrannical rule finally come to light?

Inspired by a series of one shots and the very popular "Feeling Pinkie Mean", though with a more serious undertone.

Warning: comments section on the last chapter contain some spoilers.

1. A Clean Slate

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The sun barely on the rise, the quiet streets of Ponyville laid barren. The light gently touched the buildings of the town as the celestial orb moved across the clear sky. As if on a schedule, ponies here and there would open their windows and look outside at the brand new morning. Among these ponies was a newly ordained princess who resided at the town's library. It had been just over a year since she had moved to Ponyville and had made friends with many if not all the townsfolk. Perhaps not as close friends as Pinkie Pie was with them, but at least she knew them in some way or another.

Yawning, she walked over to her balcony where she liked to admire the morning sun rising. It reminded her of her old home in Canterlot where she would watch her old teacher raise it in person. As she stood at her balcony she heard a shout from down below.

"Twilight!" Called out a rather high pitched voice, one that was easily recognized by any citizen of Ponyville.

"Oh hello Pinkie. How is your morning so far?" Twilight asked as she spread her wings, gently taking off only to land softly in front of her library where the pink pony was bouncing in place.

"Just peachy! I can't wait to find out what Princess Celestia wanted! I couldn't sleep at all last night when you told me she wanted to talk to us! I just hope it's nothing horribly bad, like complete chaos and total havoc that would cause the end of Equestria bad!"

"Oh Pinkie." Twilight began as she turning around, giving her friend a gentle smile as she furrowed her brow. "If it was anything like that she would have had me gather all the others." Without wasting much more time the newly appointed princess began to walk to the library's door, opening it with her magic she and Pinkie walked in. Like every other day, it was as neat as can be. Spike usually did a good job at keeping the place spotless and in order, last night especially he made sure the place was perfect for visit that would occur this morning. With a quick glance to grandfather clock nearby, Twilight took a seat at one of the tables nearby to begin readying. It was much too early for the princess to arrive.

Pinkie hopped from one place to another, keeping herself entertained as she looked at all the books that were shelved. Periodically she would grab a seemingly random book, open it to a just as random page, skim a few paragraphs, then place it back on the shelf. Like always, Twilight eyed her friend as she proceeded with her strange actions, but had long ago stopped trying to understand her friend and just rolled with it.

"Find anything you like?"

"Yup! Lots! Did you know Chinchilla's eyes aren't developed enough to see very well so they 'see' with their whiskers?" Pinkie blurted out as she skipped to another shelf and opened yet another book. Twilight was bewildered, none of the bookshelves she had visited had anything to do with animals, let alone chinchillas, those were in an entirely different part of the library all together. At this point she was wondering whether Pinkie already knew this fact or if she might have accidentally miscataloged a book, both equally bizarre. However, before she had a chance to respond, a bright light began to shine in the middle of the library. The duo shielded their eyes from the rays that shown almost as brightly as the very sun. When it finally faded, in front of them stood a very graceful figure, an Alicorn that stood much taller than even Twilight, who had grown a few inches since her coronation.

"Hi there Princess Celestia!" Pinkie said as she hopped over to her, a large smile stretched across her face.

"Why hello Pinkie Pie, how have you been?"

"I've been great!" She responded, though the pink pony's smile faded as her expression became one of curiosity when she noticed the rather dark figure standing beside her princess. At first glance the tall stallion could very well pass as Celestia's shadow, his color scheme certainly fit it. Before any other words could be said, however, both Pinkie and Celestia were teleported to the other side of the library, Twilight standing a few feet in front of them, facing this figure with a glare that would shake even the most sturdy of stallions.

"King Sombra! What are you doing here?"

With a sigh, the unicorn took a step forward and spoke with a rather cold and firm voice. "Ex-King, Miss Sparkle. That title was stripped of me when I lost the Crystal Empire to your sister-in-law."

"That doesn't answer my question!" Twilight's voice almost reached a scream, but her shoulder was suddenly grasped, making her lose her aggressive composure.

"I brought him here Twilight." Celestia said as she looked down at her old student. "Sombra was found half...conscious. When he was taken in and brought to me, I thought it would be a good idea to bring him here to have him reformed, like Discord was."

"No disrespect to you Princess, but Sombra isn't exactly the most peaceful pony out there." Twilight responded as she took a quick glance at the dark stallion. Though he heard what she said, he remained stoic and unfazed.

"Do not worry, he is not at full power, and he won't be until he is reformed, I made sure of that."

Seating down to take this all in, Twilight looked up at her sun goddess as if looking for a way to reply but unable to come up with the right words to do so.

"Hi, I'm Pinkie Pie!" A high pitched voice broke the rather strange silence in Twilight's head. As she turned to see her friend she noticed her quite close to Sombra who held face of surprise towards the pink mare in front of him who was much close in his opinion.

"I am Ki-...Sombra, my name is Sombra." The stallion responded.

"I didn't get a chance to introduce myself last time I saw you at the Crystal Empire, I'm sooo happy I can finally get to meet you!"

Unable to retain his stoic expression at the mare, he took a step back to distance to himself. As Twilight finally caught up to Celestia's plan, she gasped and turned to her.

"You don't mean to say Pinkie Pie is to reform Sombra are you?"

"Why yes. If I remember correctly from a friendship report, you said that Pinkie had a motto that keeps her oddly unfazed when it comes to scary events."

"Well, yes, but what does that have to do with anything?"

Sombra stepped close to the princesses, mostly to get away from the mare who had once again encroached on his personal space. "I draw my dark magic from a pony's worst fears and nightmares. I believe you had a personally experience with that." He said, trying to bring Celestia's point to head, but instead only made Twilight angry. The door Sombra had placed at the Crystal Empire had made her witness something horrible that she clearly had not forgiven him for.

"Yes, Pinkie here doesn't seem to processes these fears, she would be perfect to reform Sombra, since she can clearly speak to him without having even the smallest amount of fear towards him."

"But what about the dark magic he already processes? Surely he could just-"

"No, I can't. Celestia made sure to cut my ties to dark magic, the only think I can do at this moment is levitate objects. That is not to say I can't reconnect with dark magic. "He said with a smirk "But right now, at this very moment, I am no more powerful than a colt...magic wise at least."

"Not if I keep my eyes on you twenty-four-seven!" Pinkie said with a giggle, but Sombra had a completely different reaction. Somehow, she had managed to appear from under his red cape.

"What? How did you get under there?!" The old king asked as he stepped away. This brought a small smile to Twilight's face. Truth be told, it was rather amusing to see such a 'powerful' unicorn react to Pinkie Pie's weirdness. Celestia also shared in her student's amazement since even she did not comprehend how Pinkie did what she did.

"That's not important right now."

"Of course its important, are you going to do this all th-" Sombra, however was silenced when a pink hoof pushed against his nuzzle.

"Shhhh, if you're going to stay with me we need to establish some ground rules! First and fore most, this is completely business, so don't start liking me too much."

"What a ridiculous-"

"Second! I partake in seven snack times a day, you are to do the same."

"How are you not fa-"

"Lastly, you must also attend all the parties I put together." Sombra did not bother trying to get a word in this time around. Instead he only turned to look at Celestia with weary looking eyes.

"May I return to my icy prison now?" This was only met by a snicker from the sun goddess and Twilight who held a hoof to her mouth to try to muffle her laugh.

"Now now, we agreed you'd at least try to be reformed before taking such extreme measures, after all you were the one that was so against being trapped in ice again." Celestia said as she thought back to the little 'event' that had taken place when she met him not too long ago. Sombra took quick notice of how she had changed her expression and quickly changed the direction he was afraid the conversation would go otherwise.

"Yeah, but you never mentioned how nonsensical my 'reformer' would be."

Another chuckle escaped Celestia's lips before turning her gaze to Pinkie.

"As I understand it, you currently live with Mr. and Ms. Cake correct? I presume they would be against the idea of having Sombra live with them."

"Yeah probably, they do have twin foals." To this, Sombra's ear twitched, it was subtle, so no pony really saw it, but the idea of foals seemed to cause some sort of reaction in him it seemed. "I would hate to have them cry every time Sombrie here entered the room."

"Sombrie?" Sombra asked out, not welcoming the nickname for him.

"In that case, Twilight, how would you feel with having Sombra stay here at the library for the time being?" The purple alicorn almost slipped from her standing position when she heard the princess's proposal. Though uncertain about how things would unfold if he did stay, she hesitantly agreed to the request. "Perfect!" So from this day forward, Pinkie Pie, you are Sombra's reformer until he enters the side of good."


The details of Sombra's living arrangements were to be briefly discussed, but it was obvious that neither Sombra nor Pinkie wanted to talk all of them out. So as per the pink mare's request, they were let out and allowed to give Sombra a quick tour of Ponyville. As the newly made duo left the library Twilight couldn't help but show her concern for her friend, something Celestia took well note of.

"There is nothing you should worry about Twilight. Have faith in your friend."

"Yeah, I know you say that this is for the best, but I can't help but worry that Sombra is up to something. I mean don't you think he is taking this much too casually?" Twilight asked as her concerned eyes looked up at her teacher. Celestia's tried her best to hide her own worries and with a gentle smile consoled Twilight's worries.


"Soooo, where do you want to go first?" Pinkie asked as she hopped around Sombra who managed to regain his stoic composure. He walked slowly as the mare continued to pester him with the question, her energy seemed endless.

"I care not. I simply wanted to leave that room as soon as I could."

"Oh tell me about it! I love Twilight to death, but sometimes that mare can talk your ear off. Say do you like sweets?" The stallion couldn't help but feel how much of a pain this 'reform' would soon become with this mare constantly at his side.

"Yes, I do enjoy the occasional sweet treat." His emphasis seemed to completely fly over Pinkie's head as an idea soon popped in her head.

"Oh! I know, you should meet Mr. and Ms. Cake! Since I work there you and I will be at Sugarcube Corner a lot."


Pinkie took hold of one of Sombra's fore leg and dragged him a good distance before deciding he could walk for himself, but by that time they had already arrived.

"...and that was like the craziest thing ever, I mean who puts raisins in cookies to make them look like chocolate chips?!"

"Only the worst of ponies I am sure..." Sombra responded to the long conversation that had dragged on since their short journey had began. He did not know just how long he could possibly put up with the audio torture of being with Pinkie. However, as they walked though the store's door a sense of strength overwhelmed him, almost to the point of cracking a smile out of him.

"Uh....Pinkie, who is this you've brought?" Mr. Cake asked as he slowly gave a customer their change. The rest of the ponies in at Sugarcube Corner only stared as they walked to the counter. This was heaven for him, the rich, satisfying smell of fear.

"Oh this is Sombra, ex tyrant and merciless ruler of the once unhappy and miserable Crystal Empire. Don't worry though, I'm here to reform him, but since I also work here I thought it'd be best if I introduced him first." Mr. Cake looked nervously at Sombra who had stepped close to the counter. His figure seemingly blocking the artificial lighting at the store and covering the poor earthpony in his shadow.

"It's uh, nice to meet you Mr. Sombra." Mr. Cake greeted with a gulp.

With a small chuckle that seemed to pierce into everypony's chest as it left his lips, the ex king responded.

"It is a pleasure." His voice was once more threatening in tone. At this point many of the customers decided to leave the store, presumably to their homes or to spread word of the newcomer. The fear that had began to consume the populace of the store only feed Sombra's hunger for power and fear. While he had previously been without the purple aura of flames that escaped his eyes, they seemed to have ignited at this moment, bringing back the old image of the Tyrant of the Crystal Empire. The newly added intimidation factor made it even harder for Mr. Cake to look him in the eyes, but he persisted in their undeclared 'staring contest' to see who would break first, the winner clear as day already.

"Anywho!" Pinkie said as she pulled on the purple flames, simultaneously pulling Sombra's head to the side and ending the struggle Mr. Cake was barely able to keep up.

"How did you manage to do that?" Sombra asked, as curious as he was shocked. "These not tangible objects!" He added as be passed his hoof though the flames originating from his eyes.

"Sorry Sombrie, we should let Mr. Cake get back to work, right now lets go visit some other ponies!" Pinkie said as she began to hop out of the sweet's store, completely ignoring the question asked of her. The ponies still around began to murmur amongst themselves. Sombra could already feel the grip of fear begin to leave them. In order to keep whatever strength he still had over the dark magic gathered from them he quietly walked out and followed his escort. "Jeez, what took you so long, you slowpoke!" Pinkie asked as stallion finally reached the outside.

"Forgive me, I am not as...spirited, as you."

"Okay, I forgive you." She replied with a smile. He raised an eyebrow, it seemed that sarcasm had no effect on her whatsoever.

"So pray tell, what is our next destination?"

"Well, I think that outfit you have on is too intimidating for you to make friends, I mean just look at what happened when we went in to Sugarcube Corner." The pink mare said as she began to make her way along the street. Sombra followed suit and decided to humor her further.

"So what do you intend to do? Certainly you don't mean to have me walk nude as the commoners do."

"No silly, we're going to get you a brand new outfit!"

2. Getting Fitted

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Murmurs and whispers were heard as the pink and black duo walked the streets of Ponyville. It had already been a few hours into the morning and everypony was up and about. Not the most opportune time if you wanted to stay out of sight.

"So how are you liking Ponyville so far?" Pinkie Pie asked as she continued to hop along side Sombra.

"It is a small town, not too much to say about it." He responded, clearly not into their conversation at all. That did not stop Pinkie from talking though.

"Yeah, it was only recently founded, Granny Smith was just a filly when that happened." Sombra remained quiet, which only prompted Pinkie to continue. "Oh, Granny Smith is Applejack's grandmother, but every pony here calls her granny. Just goes with her name I guess. Oh! Did you know that there's a slight chance that I'm related to the Apple family? That could mean that I could call Granny Smith and really mean that she is my Granny, well actually I am a fourth cousin twice removed by a fifth cousin to Applejack, but it basically means we're sisters anyway."

"That's quite a few degrees of separation, I doubt it even qualifies you as-"

"Yeah, we thought about that too, we even went on a road trip to Goldie Delicious to find out the truth but she didn't know either so we just said I was anyway, but we will probably never truly know anyway."

Why did Sombra even try to interject, he had only spent a small amount of time with her and he already knew there probably wasn't any way to get through to her once she got going.

"Anywho, we're here!"

Sombra took a moment to gather his bearings. Though he tried to zone out Pinkie's blabber, he had in fact listened and had not noticed where he was going for quite a while. As he looked up he noticed a boutique of sorts. It was a three story building, getting smaller with each floor it took up. The pink and purple colors of the place did not sit very well with Sombra, but he held in his thoughts as he noticed Pinkie hopping inside after a brief knock at the doors.

"Rarity!" She screamed at what the old king presumed was the top of her lungs, but knowing her, it might have been not even half of her volume capacity. "Mind if we come in?"

"Why hello Pinkie Pie. How are you this morning?" Asked a unicorn as she worked on a dress placed on a mannequin.

"Great! I brought you a new costumer."

"Oh darling, that sounds delightful." Rarity said as she continued to work. She clearly had not noticed Sombra walking in which had annoying him to this point. As ex royalty, he was used to being heavily greeted when he went anywhere, not ignored like so. "Oh where are my manners, I am Rarity, who might you be?" She said as she finally turned around, though the words had barely left her lips when it was quickly followed by a shriek.

Pinkie had had to press her hooves against her ears to muffle the unicorn's scream, but Sombra did not. He wanted to retain his stoic demeanor, but that also meant he had to endure the shout full blast. After a few seconds of what seemed like an eternity for him, Rarity finally became silent as she gazed at him.

"P-Pinkie, are you to tell me that King Sombra is my new 'costumer'?" She asked as she finally became able to talk. Sombra was baffled. Though he could feel a faint amount of fear from this mare, it was not nearly as much as the other ponies form the sweet's store, yet she had produced such a loud scream. Just what kind of mare was this she wondered as his companion spoke.

"Yuppers. Sombrie here can't seem to make a good impression with his current outfit, I thought maybe you could make something for him." Pinkie Pie said, almost embarrassed as she spoke. The stallion wasn't sure as to why though. Perhaps it had something to do with how the ponies had looked at him before, not that he minded being looked at in awe.

"Oh, where I can completely understand as to why he'd have...a hard time making friends dressed like that. Even for royalty that outfit seems rather outdated." Rarity said as she looked him from head to hoof.

"Forgive me." Sombra began. "It must be because I spent a thousand years trapped in ice that I am so outdated compared to today's styles." He said with a rather dry voice. The white unicorn cleared her throat as a small hint of red brushed against her cheeks, quickly regretting her rather inconsiderate comment.

"But I can definitely help you look much better." She said as her horn sparked blue, levitating a roll of measuring tape. "Would you mind removing your current attire?"

"I suppose so." He said as his red horn gave off a faint glow of it's own. "Though most mares ask to be taken out to dinner before telling me to do so." He finished. His comment brought a much more strong blush to spread on the young mare's face. This cape and breast plate lit up in the same manor as his horn as they were gently levitated off of him and were quickly folded before landing safety on the ground not too far from where the two ponies stood.

"Watch yourself mister." Pinkie said as she narrowed her eyes at Sombra who's only response was to chuckle briefly.

"Come now Pinkie Pie, I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it." Rarity said as she continued to do his measurements, once done she levitated a number of different fabrics which she would occasionally pressed against Sombra to see how his own color scheme went with each other. Quite a while passed as Rarity went to work, Pinkie, oddly enough was able to stay still and watched the mare at work as Sombra stood just as still.

"So." Pinkie said, finally breaking the long silence that had fallen at the boutique. Much to Sombra's dismay, it appeared to have been directed at him. "How can you stand, standing still for so long?!" Pinkie asked as she finally slumped down.

"Were you merely trying to see who stood still the longest?" Sombra asked with a small laugh escaping his lips. Rarity joined him with a giggle herself.

"Oh Pinkie Pie, royalty get fitted all the time, this must be just another day for him. Say King Sombra what, if I may ask, are you doing in Ponyville anyway?"

"Just Sombra." He corrected. "Like I told Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle, that title was stripped form me when the Crystal Empire was taken from me."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound-"

"It is fine, Pinkie Pie here is to be my reformer, orders by Princess Celestia herself." He finished. As if badly timed, Rarity looked over to the bored mare who had proceeded to drag herself across the boutique's floor using only her hind legs.

"Oh, oh my." She said as she was having second thoughts about being so close to Sombra. Her first impressions were that he was still the tyrant from before, but had changed her mind when Pinkie spoke so casually with him, now it seems that he really was the same stallion from before, but oddly enough, did not seem all that interested in carrying on with his ways. She had so many questions to ask Sombra but felt it perhaps inadequate to ask them.

"Ouch!" Sombra screamed out, Rarity's train of thought had distracted her just enough to have accidentally poked him with a pin.

"Oh do forgive me, I did not mean to-"

"Its fine." Sombra said as he moved his arm, stretched the 'injured' spot. For a good while Rarity thought that Sombra would attack, or at the very least raise his voice, but Sombra seemed to do neither. How was it that the tyrant of the Crystal Empire was so lax and docile now? She simply could not fathom it.

"Uuuug. Are you two done yet?" Pinkie asked, again the white mare was brought back to reality and with a quick shake of her head, regained her composure.

"Yes Pinkie." She said as she levitated the fabric's from Sombra and placed them on a table close by. "I can finish my work with a mannequin, so you're free to go."

"Woohoo! Let's go Sombrie, the day is still young and we have a lot of more ponies to meet!" Pinkie said as she hopped out through the front door.

"I do believe that phrase is only used for the night time." Sombra said as he quickly put his armor plating and cape back on before turning to Rarity to speak. "How much do I owe you for your services?"

"Don't worry about it, its on the house!"

This caused him to raise and eyebrow before continuing the conversation.

"Pray tell, why is it free of charge?"

"Oh, I'm simply feeling generous."

Not yet satisfied with the answer he took a step forward to press the issue.

"I do have the current day currency, I am able to pay." Sombra said as his face had grown dangerously close to Rarity's whom took yet another step back.

"It's just...Might I ask you something?"

"That depends on the question."

"Why are you so...nice? Its not that it's a bad thing its just I thought you were a tyrant and a cruel stallion that-" Rarity's words were cut off when she noticed how close he was again, though this time with rugged brows and the flames from his eyes at full ignition. His stern look brought chills up the mare's spine and a certain scent was soon filling Sombra's nostrils. The smell of fear.

"Awfully bold of you to ask something like that." He finally said before stepping back and looking down at the small unicorn. "Perhaps I'll tell you one day, but today is not the day." He said before turning and walking off, his red cape moving behind him as the wind form outside the boutique rushed in, allowing for a rather appealing cosmetic affect on him. Rarity couldn't help but gulp as she saw him leave and let go of a breath she didn't even know she was holding in until now. It was quite strange, the moment she brought up his reform he held those rigid eyes, but she couldn't help but feel like there was a hint of sadness filled in them. Like a past memory he just wasn't willing to let go.

Back outside Pinkie Pie sat waiting for Sombra who seemed to have exited rather quickly. The mare, however, was more concerned with why he had taken so long.

"Sombrie, you are waaaaay too slow." Sombra's purple flames had withered back down to just a sliver of a streak as he saw Pinkie with a rather disapproving look.

"Like I said, I am not as animated as you are Pinkie Pie." Unhappy with the answer, Pinkie simply eyed him up and down.

"You didn't do anything to Rarity did you?" To this a small smirk spread across the stallion's face.

"Why? Are you perhaps jealous?" A gasp was heard as Pinkie became railed up. Her face slightly more pink than usual.

"I am not! Rarity is just a close friend and I don't want you hurting her!" Sombra couldn't help but smile as he began to walk and Pinkie followed suit, this time without hopping. She pestered on with a stream line of wards which Sombra wasn't really paying much attention, he simply continued walking forward while Pinkie ranted his ear off. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad after all.

3. The Sweet Smell of Vanilla

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Sombra and Pinkie once again walked side by side , well, one walked the other hopped. It did not take long for Pinkie to quickly forgive Sombra's small teasing at her. Just like before, everytime they walked passed some pony whispers would be heard, though the dark stallion had ignored them the first few times, they were definitely starting to annoy him.

"Remind me, where are we headed this time?" He finally asked, mostly to have the sound of his voice drown out the outside noise from the murmurs.

"Well, everypony pony is really busy in the morning so I thought I could introduce you to the ones that aren't so busy."

"Huh..." Sombra said as he looked around. It was mid morning so everypony was busy. Maybe this would be a short list of ponies, which was perfectly fine by him. He wasn't exactly in the mood to talk to new ponies, especially after the little incident in the boutique.

Pinkie didn't seem to mind all the attention she was getting from being around the ex tyrant, it seemed that word traveled fast around Ponyville and soon the whispers and murmurs increased with more ponies coming out to see them. It was almost like a two pony parade, only with no screaming and cheering. Just awkward stares and whispers.

"Hi Carrot Top!" Pinkie called out to an earthpony not too far from them. She had a saddle on with some gardening supplies but as she turned to look at the pink mare she quickly shrunk down.

"Oh uh...hi Pinkie..." She hesitantly said as the duo walked closer to her. Sombra's stoic persona seemed to make her uncomfortable.

"Sombrie, this is Carrot Top, that's just a nickname though, right?" Pinkie said as she turned to look at the orange maned mare.

"Y-yeah, I'm Golden Harvest, but everypony calls me Carrot Top." She said meekly, trying her best to keep a friendly face. Truth be told, the only reason she had not run away was because Pinkie made it seem like this dark menacing figure was okay in a sense.

"Well I am not just 'anypony', I guarantee you. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance Golden Harvest." Sombra said, holding his head high and making Carrot Top seem even smaller than she was. Pinkie continued to smile as she looked back and forth between her two friends.

"Oh uh....okay. I uh, have to get going. I'll see you around Pinkie? still alive I hope" She said before running off. Where to, it didn't matter, the mare just wanted to get away from Sombra. As she ran, his flame seemed to spark a few times before a smile faintly formed on his face.

"That wasn't very friendly you know." Pinkie said with what he would called a frown, though it was odd. It was almost like she was criticizing him for how he said things instead of what he did. He quickly caught on to what she was trying to say.

"Golden Harvest is such a graceful name, I'd hate to dishonor it by calling her 'Carrot Top' instead."

"Okay, I see what you mean, but she likes her nickname." Sombra simply grunted at her, just to show he acknowledged what she said before continuing to walk through the surprisingly quiet streets of Ponyville. The sound of Pinkie hopping would be the only noise that could be heard as they went on their way, mostly because they were now leaving town to some outside place.

"Did you not say we were to visit a friend of yours?" Sombra asked as he look a look around.

"Yeah, we're going to go see Fluttershy!"

"I have never heard a more character describing name."

"Yeah, she is pretty shy, but she's come a long way from her timid self! Soon she might have to change her name like me!" Pinkie said as she giggled to herself. This made Sombra quite curious, in all his time, he had never heard of some pony changing there name willingly like so.

"So what was your name prior to the change?"

"Oh, nothing too different, Pinkie is just more of a nickname. My full name is Pinkamena Diane Pie."

This certainly made Sombra stop dead in his tracks. He did not expect this bouncy pink mare to have such a name, especially her middle name, Diane.

"Everything okay Sombrie?" Pinkie asked once she realized he was a few feet behind. It took a little nudging to get him to come back to.

"What? Yes, yes, I'm alright." The dark stallion said once he was snapped back to reality. "You have...quite a full name." He finally said as he began to walk forward again.

"Yeah, my family is a little old school." The mare said with a giggle. From there on she carried on and began to tell him about her family, something he clearly wasn't interested in, but he nodded every once in a while to feign his attention to the topic. It was better for Pinkie to go into a monologue instead of having to converse with her. Though he wouldn't have had to suffer through it very long, they soon reached a cottage which he presumed to belong to this 'Fluttershy'.

"We're here!" Pinkie said as she hopped up to the door and knocked on it a few times. Sombra had barely gotten to the door when it opened, almost like a chemical reaction, Sombra's eyes light up in a burning combustion which shocked even him. Fluttershy who had just opened the door quickly shut it as she screamed out.

"Its Sombra! It's King Sombra!!" The yellow pegasus screamed from behind the door.

"Sombrie! That wasn't very nice! Turn down your purple fire thingy!" Pinkie shouted as she turned around towards the dumbfounded stallion. He remained this way until he finally realized what it was that happened, the mare who had locked herself in her home was so full with fear of him that she single handedly given him more fear to draw his power from than the entire crowd back at Sugarcube Corner. He couldn't help but smile as the gears in his head began to turn, but just as quickly looked off and began to walk away.

"It really isn't my fault. These flames run on fear, I can't help it if your friend is afraid of me." He said rather joyfully. Though not happy with the answer, Pinkie didn't really have much she could say. If what he said was true, it certainly wasn't his fault.

"Umm Fluttershy?" The pink mare asked as she propped her ear up to the door. "Sombra is okay, I'm suppose to reform him!"

"That's impossible! He's King Sombra! You saw how powerful he was last time we met him!" Fluttershy's voice was anything but soft and sweet at this point, making it a quick point to Pinkie that she was indeed terrified of him.

"Aww come on, give him a chance, I've gone around town all morning and he has had yet to attack any pony." Pinkie proclaimed as she puffed out her chest, though that claim was certainly not worded correctly for the shy mare who still kept her door shut. Again Pinkie spoke to try to convice her to open. "Come on, at least give Sombrie a chance! He said it was cause you're so scared of him that his eyes lit up like fireworks, so if you're not scared of him he won't scare you!"

"Though that make logical sense, I highly doubt the concept will be very effective for her." Sombra said form a few yards back. Pinkie ignored his comment as she continued to speak to Fluttershy.

"Come on, pleeeeeease? I'll get you some of those muffins you like!"

"Now you're bribing? Remind me who the 'bad guy' is here." Sombra said, poking fun at Pinkie who held a very unamuzed expression towards him.

"Pretty please Fluttershy? I promise he won't hurt you!" Silence fell over the duo as they waited for a response. Sombra was about to speak, but was stopped when he say Pinkie raise a hoof, as if asking for more time. Finally, after what seemed for ever, the door to the cottage creaked open ever so slightly. An eye peeked through and as it fell on Sombra his eyes sparked again causing her to shut the door out of shock. Again they waited for a while before Pinkie knocked again only to have Sombra's eyes burst again.

"Hey! Fluttershy didn't even open the door this time, you are doing it on purpose!" Sombra simply pointed up at the second floor window to have Pinkie see a moving curtain.

"She peeked from up there. These flames react on their own. " He said as he turned around again, this time making his way back to town.

"Hey! Where are you going?"

"Back to the library, your friend clearly doesn't want to meet me."

Pinkie wanted to call out to him to stop, but she quickly looked back at the cottage one more time before realizing he was probably right. She sighed softly before placing both hooves to the side of her nuzzle and shouting.

"I'm sorry he scared you Fluttershy! We'll be back later once you feel like you can talk to him, until then I'll keep him away from you!" She finished and ran towards Sombra who had already gotten pretty far ahead of her. As she left, the door opened slowly and Fluttershy poked her head out. A worried look spread across her face as she saw the pink mare trot away.

The rest of the way back to the library was rather uneventful, not to mention silent, which surprised the old king. He actually wanted to ask the mare what was wrong, but decided against it because one, he did not really care. And two, it would break the oh so lovely silence he finally got to enjoy.

"Think she might ever get to talk to you? You know, without her freaking out I mean."

Sombra's expression sunk as she spoke. He certainly did not want to talk. For some reason though, it only made Pinkie talk more. "I mean Fluttershy is really fragile, it's no wonder she can't help but be afraid of her, and I don't blame her either, you do look pretty scary." After a quick sigh Sombra finally spoke.

"If you find me so 'scary', why is it I don't sense a single strand of fear in you?"

"Well duh, its cause I know you're not a bad guy!"

"And how did you come to that conclusion?"

"Cause you volunteered to become reformed! you wouldn't if you were a bad guy silly!"

"And what makes you think I volunteered?"

"Cause you came here with Celestia!"

"And how do you know I wasn't forced to come, stripped of my dark magic, and a prisoner to this reformation?"

"Cause I can tell that you want to be a good guy! I can see it in your eyes." Pinkie's sudden appearance surprised him. She almost seemed to have materialized right in front of him as she grabbed a hold of the sides of his head, looking at him straight into his eyes. His stoic expression remained as she gazed at him. "I can see it clear as day!"

"And what if you're wrong? What if I'm fooling you into a false sense of security and biding my time to strike? What if when I do I destroy everything and everypony you care about?" Sombra asked as he tried to plant a seed of doubt within the young mare's heart, which seemed to work. Pinkie's smile lost some of it's curve and the flames upon Sombra's eyes flickered as she soon felt a small sliver of terror enter her.

The stallion couldn't help but smile as he did what he did best, spread fear in pony's hearts, but before he could gloat in his own glory, a strong scent of vanilla overwhelmed him. He froze as he realized the pink mare had just wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug, her puffy mane pressed against his muzzle. Pinkie smiled softly as she hugged the rather tall stallion, the flames in his eyes all but went out as he tried to react.

"Then I'd hug you and tell you that's no way to make friends." Pinkie said softly as her words found their way into Sombra's ears, her breath sending a jolt down his spine. Quickly, he grabbed a hold of her and pulled her out of the embrace before stepping to the side, his head angled down slightly to hide a faint blush appearing at his cheeks.

"Don't do that again." He mustered out before walking again. Left behind, Pinkie quickly regained some hop in her step as she followed close behind.

"Okie dokie loki!"

4. Dark Magic

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Sweat began to run down the small dragon's face as he watched the menacing figure in front of him. Though he stood still and gave no hint of attacking, Spike felt no more safe than if he was surrounded by wolves while covered in barbeque sauce. The awkward stare from one another persisted for quite a while before a voice interrupted them.

"Sombra, stop bothering Spike!" Twilight, who was currently shelving some books with her magic said, calling over to the duo just under the stairs. The old king said nothing and did nothing, his glare never wavering and it only made Spike more nervous. Was he angry about what had happened last time? The little baby dragon was quite possibly the only reason Sombra was defeated and was stripped of his title as 'king'. That was certainly something any pony would hold a grudge for.

"Sombra!" Again the alicorn called out, this time it did seem to get through to him and he silently turned around to look through the books on a nearby shelf. Twilight only sighed as she saw Sombra occupy himself.

He had not been here more than half an hour, but he was already wearing her patience thin. Whether it be getting in the way or not doing as he is told, he was more of a nuisance than anything else. Pinkie had long been gone, she had work to do at Sugarcube Corner and the ex tyrant was not allowed to go anywhere if he wasn't in her company, so instead of lounging around the catering store and scaring costumers away, he was to stay at the library until Pinkie would come and be his escort.

"So...uh." Spike said as he started to reshelf books not too far away from Sombra. The dark stallion used a red aura to levitate a book from the shelf, not responding at all to the dragon. This only made him more nervous towards this armored stallion. When the princess had come by he was still asleep and was not there when Sombra had made his entrance, good thing too lest some catastrophe might have ensued. Twilight readied a saddle and turned to her assistant, a paper of sorts being levitated towards him.

"Spike, I have some errands I have to attend to, won't take more than an hour. If anything happens use this rune to contact me. All you have to do is talk to it and I'll hear." The purple mare smiled as Spike grabbed a hold of it, then completely changed her expression as she threw a glare at Sombra who simply ignored her. "Don't be afraid to use it, even if you don't think it's important."

"Why not send the dragon to do the errands if you're so afraid of me doing something." Sombra said as he kept his eyes glued to a book he had just opened.

"Because Sombra, Celestia asked me to try to carry out my daily routine as if nothing was wrong. What would the ponies here think if I was suddenly confined to the library on your behalf? They would come to think of you as a threat, only feeding you more power." Twilight's rant persisted against the old king, with each word she would take a step closer, closing the gap between them as she came head to head with Sombra. She had managed to fly subconsciously and was a foot or two off the ground as she stared down at him, but Sombra was not intimidated so easily. He raised his head from the book and stared at her blankly before speaking.

"I am sure Princess Celestia vouched for me already, did she not? If anything, I would get my power from you, not the ponies. It's obvious how afraid you are of me." Sombra said as the flames from his eyes flickered. Twilight's face grew red with anger. She was ready to blast him through the wall, he was powerless at this very moment, why wait until he was strong enough to fight back? This was certainly not something she was willing to wait for.

Spike, who had been standing close by, opened his mouth out of surprise. What he saw in front of him he did not want to believe. Sombra chuckled as he too saw Twilight, her sclera no longer white, but a sickly green with red irises, a small purple flame exiting the sides of her eyes.

"You are a natural." He said. Confused, it took Twilight a moment to realize that she had unknowingly began to use dark magic. Quickly, she flapped her wings to push herself back and pull herself away from the hatred that she had succumbed to. "Perhaps you aren't afraid of me, you're just afraid of what you can become in my presence." He finished with a muffled chuckle before returning to his book. Taken aback, Twilight tried her best to regain her composure before waving her hoof at Spike and speaking.

"Just...make sure to use that rune if anything happens." She said before quickly getting out of the library, leaving the two of them behind.

"What did you do to Twilight?!" Spike quickly asked, almost completely sure it was Sombra's fault.

"Me?" Sombra began, again without lifting his gaze from the book. "You were there were you not? When she used dark magic the first time? After all, you would not have been able to get to the crystal heart without its use. You witnessed it, how she must have taken to dark magic like fish to water." Again a soft chuckle was heard resonate form him. "It is not my fault if she can't control her magic."

Spike was distraught, he didn't know what to do with this information. He couldn't exactly argue, some where deep inside of him he knew that Sombra was right. Even back when the Everfree Forest was invading Ponyville, Twilight used dark magic as substitute for alicorn magic. No pony said anything back then, but he was sure every pony present thought the same thing.

"Say..." Sombra said, finally breaking the silence that had befallen the library. "Where do you keep all the books on history?"


Twilight's breathing had drastically increased. She wasn't sure what had just happened, all she knew was that Sombra was right in one regard, she really did not want to be around him. Coming to stop, she took a moment to catch her breath and try to straighten herself before proceeding on to her destination. Though, she wasn't exactly in the mood to follow through with her errands. For now, she would just wander the town to clear her head, but her mind was anything but calm.

As the new princess walked, she was happily greeted by many of Ponyville's citizens, most of which were in the middle of work themselves but spared some time to talk to her. It was the sort of attention she wasn't used to, but it was nice to be so warmly welcomed. As she spoke to them, her mind persisted in recalling Sombra's words.

"You are a natural"

Twilight remembered her time back in the Crystal Empire, when Sombra was trying to break though Cadance's shield and attack. How she had used dark magic to open the stair way to the crystal heart. She was so happy that she had been able to pull it off. It was almost like a sense of empowerment from having used that kind of magic. Her teacher had shown her briefly that even a princess could use it, so it didn't even click in her brain that it could even have any sort of consequences. She was wrong. When Twilight had reached the door at the bottom of the stairs she subconsciously used dark magic to open it, but she didn't know why exactly. Using dark magic seemed to have triggered a boobie trap of sorts that caused her to witness her biggest fear.

The princess cringed as she recalled being so terribly distraught at having her teacher forsake her and cut ties with her. It was almost too unbearable for her back then. If it had not been for Spike, who knows how long she would have stayed in that state, or it would have even ended. The trick to opening that door was in using light based magic, something Twilight could easily do once she regain consciousness, but it begged a question, why was it locked behind a door with a light based key? Sombra only used dark magic, so why did this door specifically have such a twist? Twilight was brought back to reality when she heard a rather happy voice call her.

"Twilight!" Pinkie practically screamed. as the purple mare looked over, her friend was waving her whooves frantically trying to get her attention. With a soft smile, she walked over to say hi. "Jeez Twilight, how far into lala land were you?"

"What do you mean Pinkie?"

"Well, I called you like fifteen times, you must have had something really important on your mind silly. So how is Sombrie doing?" the alicorn took quick notice at how she had possibly had walked around the same block a few times and almost laughed at herself.

"Oh, he's fine I'm sure. I had Spike look after him and left a way for him to call me if anything went wrong. Why the sudden interest? You were with him not an hour ago."

"Oh you know, I'm just kinda worried. This is probably really hard on him, being placed in such a strange environment and all." Pinkie said, rubbing the back of her head as she looked away. This made Twilight furrow her brows.

"If you ask me, he's taking it rather smoothly, too much so for my liking." This caused the pink mare to smile before turning on her heels and heading back to work.

"Oh just give him a chance, he might surprise you." She said with a large grin.

"Deja vu." Twilight said, recalling Celestia telling her the exact same thing to her.


"H-Here are all the books on history we have..." Spike said, placing the last five books he found on the table where Sombra was quietly reading. The stallion waved his hoof in acknowledgement, not wanting to break his concentration. "Why do you need all these books for anyway?"

"I have been locked away for a thousand years, there is a lot for me to catch up on. Have any day to day news articles on major events?" Sombra asked, raising his head from a book as his eyes read line by line.

"Uh...some, not many. If you want more you might want to head to Canterlot, they have all the newspapers filed up for some odd reason." Spike said as he took some books off the table, presumably the ones Sombra was already finished reading. It was really weird for the dragon to see him read, it was almost like he was watching Twilight hard at work, he definitely gave off the same vibe anyway.

"Hmm, chances of me going to Canterlot are slim, do you think you could get some of them to this library?" Sombra asked, this time finally raising his head and putting the book he was readying to the side.

"I could, yes, but that would take a lot of work. There are a lot of papers I have to sign and file and-"

"It is your fault I am even in this predicament. I believe you owe me at least this much." Sombra said, his voice almost cutting straight into Spike's chest as the sound entered his ears. He was right, it was, in a way, his fault Sombra was even here to begin with.

"A-Alright." Spike said with a sigh before walking off and getting started on the long list of things he had to do, now even longer than before. Once the baby dragon was out of ear shot, Sombra spoke to himself.

"So Miss Sparkle, it seems you were quite the gifted unicorn..." He said as he put down one of the few news articles that were currently in the library. It was a headline about Twilight and her little outburst while taking the entrance exam for the academy for gifted unicorns. The old king leaned back and rested his eyes as he proceeded what he had read. A sigh escaped his lips as his mind began to slow and sleep overcome him. "Gifted unicorns huh? Things never change..." Sombra managed to say before his exhaustion took over.

5. A Storm is Brewing

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Staring off into the distance, the snow raged on. Where the dark stallion sat, on the other hand, was a grass land just into it's spring. Sombra sighed, memories of his near death coming back as if he was still trapped in the storm, slowly dying to the cold environment. He was not wearing his usual outfit, rather, he had his coat in full display and his mane free from any containment.

"You look silly when you zone out like that." A mare's voice said as she closed the distance to him. He heard her, but did not turn to see who it was. He didn't have to look, Sombra knew she was smiling, a rather heart warming smile that always seemed to make him feel better.

"Diane..." He muttered to himself before closing his eyes and lowering his head. In a flash, the once bare stallion appeared dressed in his battle armor and red cape. As if on queue, the mare behind him dissolved into the wind blowing. Again he fell into silence to gaze at the melancholy scenery, yes, melanchory and nostalgic. Not far behind him stood the Crystal Empire, at least the old one from 1000 years ago.

"Why doth thou push her away?" Asked a rather stern voice who had just appeared nearby.

"Princess Luna...You are aware that it is the middle of the day right? Shouldn't you be asleep so you can perform your duties when night time arrives?" Sombra said, his eyes glued to the horizon. He knew full well he was dreaming, after all, it had been a dream he had had for ages now. Every night since his reawakening he would remember this beautiful sight from...before.

"We could not sleep." Luna said, slowly walking towards the old king, though at this point in time in his dream, he was merely a vanished prince. "We also wished to....apologize, for before. Back when thine first appearance and We-"

"Enough." Sombra interrupted, thought his face had suddenly turned away. He bit his lip as he restrained himself from losing himself to emotion. "You...did what you had to. It is thanks to you that I recovered some...sanity."

Silently, the Princess of the night came to sit by his side. Neither spoke as a storm began to brew in the distance. Sombra's mind raced as he began to recall this moment from his past. With his teeth cringed, a small whimper left him. A quiet cry that Luna noticed, after all, she had witnessed this scene before. Usually she would tell the dreamer to face their fears, but Sombra was different. It was because he faced his fears that this happened, that the Tyrant Unicorn King came to be. In the distance, they both witnessed the memory of Sombra, his younger self, not yet tainted by dark magic run towards the storm. His eyes full of confidence and a grin upon his face.

The Sombra who sat by watching had a different expression, one he did his best to hide as a small tear escaping his eye.


With a gasp, the old tyrant king awoke, his face sweating and his hooves shaking. He took a moment to recollect himself like he had grown used to. The room he had confined himself to had grown dark, clearly past nightfall. As Sombra stood up he twisted his neck, popping a series of bones with each turn. Slowly he made his way out, his sudden sweat session had left him dehydrated and wished to get a glass of water.

Opening the door to the main library, he saw a sleeping dragon at a desk. Upon close inspection of the papers around him it was clear he had made the necessary arrangements for Sombra's request. The unicorn's expression remained stoic, more so on the fact he did not know how to feel about the one responsible for his 'death' to be so devoted into the favor he had asked of him to have finished all in one day.

Had he been a different kind of stallion, perhaps he would have placed a cover around Spike's shoulders or taken him up to his bed, but Sombra was not like that. With a simple sigh he made his way to what he presumed was the kitchen. Going in was easy enough, though a little slow as to keep quiet. Sombra did not want to wake his 'host' lest all hell break loose. Opening a random cupboard, he used his magic to bring down a glass to use as he simultaneously opened the kitchen faucet. As he lifted his head to take a sip of the water he collected, he noticed something strange on top of the table close by. A basket with some treats along with a note.

Dear Sombrie, I came by so we could share some treats for a small snack, but you were asleep. It must have been a long day for you so I understand, though this is a one time only pass! Rest up, I'll be around early tomorrow so we can spend some time together before I go off to work!


There was a small drawing of herself next to her name. Though obviously just sketch, it was very details and Sombra couldn't help but admire it for a moment.

"Nice of you to join the land of the living." Twilight asked, quickly turning on the lights in the kitchen, blinding Sombra for a few seconds, seconds the little alicorn used to get right up to him.

"Sparkle." Sombra greeted, not really in the mood to speak to her. He placed the note down and levitated a cupcake from the basket which he took a quick bite out of.

"I have never seen somepony be in such a deep sleep." Twilight continued. "It was as if you were meditating instead of sleeping." This sparked the stallions curiosity. It was obvious it wasn't true, but he wondered where she was going with this.

"Let's say you were right. What would that mean to me?"

"It would mean, you were concentrating on something, and for a unicorn, concentration usually means a struggle with a magical spell." Twilight began to accuse. Sombra raised a brow as he took one last drink from his glass and putting it in the sink.

"And you presume I was at work with 'dark magic'? That perhaps I was up to some evil plan?" Sombra asked sarcastically as he made his way around the princess, though suddenly stopped when a wing stretched open to block his path.

"Yes...I do. I want to know what it is you were doing." She asked, a rigidness to her tone which was rather unsettling for her. She wasn't used to being so forceful and accusing.

"Do you really wish to know what I was up to? Ask Princess Luna, she joined me in my dream." Sombra said, using his magic to force Twilight's wing to close and walked out of the kitchen, leaving the princess with an angry expression. He made his way around the library, a place he had yet to fully explore, not that it was particularly large, definitely not the size of a home he was used to. As if luck would have it, somehow he managed to find his way to a balcony at the very top.

As he come out he noticed a telescope which was something he did not recognize. He had only been 'back' for a few days, at least, back in the sense he was able to move around and explore. Like Princess Luna, he was very much conscious in his imprisonment, so there were plenty of technological advancements he was not aware of.

The cool night air brushed against his face, slowly moving his mane as he stood out and looked at his new 'home'. Sombra hated this, not just this place but the situation he was in. He was basically guilted into this reformation, all because of that dreadful princess of the night. Had she not gone into his reoccurring dream he might still be fighting for control of the Crystal Empire. Still, he knew that she was right in her actions. Each time he had come back to attack he had been overwhelmed by hatred, not a mind set to make clear decisions. His sanity had all but left him, making the old king act on instinct and attack on sight.

Sombra's train of thought was interrupted when he heard some cluttering down below. A quick glance downward allowed him to see Twilight searching for something. It wasn't long until she felt his eyes on her and returned the favor. They remained still for a while as both glared at each other. She had probably thought he had left the library and was about to go look for him. Her lack of trust irritated him, definitely did not make this any easier. She was right in keeping him on a thin rope, he himself would not trust him if the tables were turned, but he had already grown weary of having eyes on him at all times.

A plan was beginning to brew within his mind. He was to escape, it was no secret neither wanted this 'reformation.' Sombra had had second thoughts since he had first agreed, and now he will restrain himself no longer. He had, however, one large hurdle to overcome. When he had been taken in by Celestia she had him 'cleansed', left without his dark magic. He needed it if he had any change to escape...and he knew just where to go to get it.

Sombra shifted his glance over to the edge of town. From this height it was easy to spot Fluttershy's Cottage. Yes, she would be the perfect pony to feed him the power he needed. He had only been in her presence a few minutes, but he had already recovered about a tenth of his maximum power. He estimated he would only need fifty to make it out if things went south, but why be content with just escaping? If he bid his time and played his cards right he could ransack the entire town and still have enough power to make his way to Canterlot for some 'feeding'. Sombra could not help to smile as he envisioned the future, a world of darkness where light could not keep him from his sole goal, his Kingdom. It truly just came down to that, he needed his Crystal Empire again, only then could he find peace in her...passing.

Twilight, who had continued to look up at Sombra from the base of the library couldn't help but feel a shiver of some sort go down her spine. She was too far away to see his smile, but she knew he was up to something, she could feel it. And she was not willing to be caught up in his plan. She needed a counter measure, something, anything to make sure he could do no harm. Her gaze shifted to Canterlot, which was visible even from where she stood. The Kingdom on the side of the mountain had been her savior before, and knew now was to be no different.

Staring in different directions, both Sombra and Twilight began to plan out their actions. Both knew the other was a threat, but had to bare with it, if only for a small while.

6. Time to Foalsit! (pt 1)

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"GOOD MORNING" A high pitched voice called out. Sombra, who wearily opened his eyes, smelled a faint scent of vanilla in the air. It was soon apparent that it was coming form the soft mane pressing against him as Pinkie nudged him with her head. "Hurry up sleepy head!" Using a hoof to push her back, the old king sat up and popped his neck, not in any sort of mood to deal with the mare.

"What are you doing here?" He asked as he glanced outside, still dark and no more than an hour or so since he had returned to sleep.

"I'm waking you up, isn't it obvious!?" Pinkie said with a giggle before she bounced from one end of the room to the other. "I have a very long day at work today, so I wanted to make sure we could spend as much time together as possible, isn't that great?"

Sombra stared blankly at her, his face held an expression somewhere between stoic, and unamuzed. Without saying anything, he laid back down and covered himself with the large blanket from head to hoof. Not taking a no for an answer, Pinkie bites onto the covers and yanks them off of him, but proceeds to blush as she looks at his exposed coat.

"O-oh wow, you look kind of naked without your armor on..." Pinkie managed to say as Sombra forced himself up again.

"What does that say about you?" He responds, placing a hoof to his head as he massages his forehead, trying to wake up. A moment of silence falls between them before the mare finally decides to jolt out and slam the door.

"I'll just wait out here until you're dressed!"

His eyes half open from both exhaustion and annoyance, he pondered to head back to bed anyway, but the insufferable mare had taken his covers with her, so he tiredly stood up as a yawn escaped him. Sombra walked to the corner of his 'room', to a small closet that had been recently installed, no doubt by that baby dragon, the claw marks on the wood a dead give away. It was strange, the room had been cleaned from tip to bottom by the smell of it, the aroma of cleaning products still lingered in the room, but it begged the question, what did a library need such a big room for and what was it used for before he arrived? The room was not as large as he was accustomed to back in the Crystal Empire, but it was still no storage closet.

Once he reached the closet he used his magic to open it to reveal his armor and cloak which he put on rather quickly. He hesitated, however, once he saw his crown. His mane hung loosely over his forehead as he gazed it at and pondered if he should put it on. After all, a king is not a king without a kingdom to rule, so he did not need a crown now did he?

"Are you almost done?" Sombra heard from his door, a slight tone of boredom in Pinkie's voice. Pushing his doubts aside, the old king placed the crown on his head, pulling his mane back to the luscious flow that it was used to, and with that made his way to his room's door. As he used his magic to turn the knob, but before he could actively open it, it swung open, Pinkie had placed her head against the wooden door only to accidentally fall on her back once it was no longer holding her up. With a nervous smile she looked up at the dark stallion who only raised and eyebrow at her.

"Hey! Breakfast is ready!" Sombra heard Spike shout from elsewhere in the library.

"Uh, coming!" The pink mare said as she got back on her hooves.

"Isn't it a little early for breakfast?" Sombra asked as he began to follow Pinkie who had already began to make her way over to the drake.

"Yeah, but we better eat now since we won't have a chance to do so later, so I asked Spike to make us something last night when I came to drop by the basket of treats."

"Why won't we have a chance to eat later, if I may ask."

"Cause we'll have our hooves full with Pound and Pumpkin Cake."

"And who are they?"

"The foals I have to foalsit!" This made Sombra stop dead on his tracks. Foals, why did it have to be foals? He had not noticed that they had already made it to the kitchen where an annoyed baby dragon had been waiting for them.

"What took you guys so long?" Spike asked as he distributed the plates for every pony. Obviously not too thrilled with having to get up so early, a trait both he and Sombra seem to share at the moment.

"Blame Pinkamena, she was too infatuated with my 'naked body', as she put it." Sombra said as he sat down.

"Don't say it like that!" Pinkie screamed out as Spike nudged her with his elbow while giving her a smug smile. "I was just saying that you look different without your clothes on!" The Pink on her face only turned more red as she tried to explain herself, but it didn't seem to work very well. Spike laughed at her expense as they all sat down to eat.

Sombra eyed his plate, a curious dish to be sure. It was some kind of flat circular bread in two to three stacks. He saw how Pinkie completely drenched hers in syrup and was about to do the same until he noticed Spike use much much less than her. He decided to find an intermediate between the two and as he poured it paid close attention to how they ate. Being behind the times, he had to make note of everything as to keep his manners up to date, though he believed that savagely gulping down his food like Pinkie was doing was probably not the correct way to do it.

Instead, he did as Spike, using a knife to cut the 'bread' into bite size pieces and eating them with a fork. As he took his first bite he could feel his pupils dilate. It was the most delicious thing he had ever eaten, and he had eaten quite a few delicacies in his time as king. He would have thought that this kind of food would be served when hosting for an ambassador from a far away place.

"Pray tell, what is this food we're eating?" He asked the purple dragon who had just taken a sip of his milk.

"They're called pancakes, we have them all the time for breakfast, never had them before?"

Sombra shook his head as he stared down at his 'pancakes', again taking another bite. His mind began to race as he thought about if this was a 'casual' meal, then the delicacies of today must be even more delicious. His mouth watered at the thought and he almost broke form his stoic state, if it hadn't been from a voice calling form behind them.

"Hurry up you two, if you take much longer we'll be late." With a quick turn of his neck, Sombra saw one of the many sights that he has come to despise from his stay at Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle.

"You are coming with us?" Sombra asked with a deep frown on his face.

"Of course I am, I'm not leaving you alone with foals, and honestly speaking, the only reason I'm letting you go at all is because having you caged up here would be counter productive in 'reforming' you." Twilight said as she turned around to place a saddle on her. Suddenly, he was no longer hungry.


"Are you sure the library will be fine without you?" Pinkie asked as she hopped next to Sombra and Twilight, both wearing an expression of annoyance.

"Yes Pinkie, it's usually not busy in the mornings so Spike can take care of it for the few hours we'll foalsit for." The alicorn said as she shifted her glance at Sombra for a mere second, a second long enough for him to notice. "Now, are you sure Mr. and Mrs. Cake are okay with having Sombra there with the foals?"

"Yep! I asked them yesterday, though at first Mr. Cake was against the idea, when I told him you were coming too he seemed to calm down a little."

The trio were met by a lot of the 'early birds' of Ponyville, who all had mixed feelings about seeing them. On one hoof, they were happy to see their new princess, on the other, Sombra. Nothing else was needed to be said. Pinkie seemed oblivious to their discomfort and greeted every pony she met like usual. Sombra himself had mix feelings. He could feel his flames of fear rise slowly as he began to store his dark magic, but he did not seem to like having such a happy-go-lucky mare blocking their fear of him so easily. Thankfully, they soon arrived at Sugarcube Corner, the Cake's home. With a quick knock at their door, they were greeted by Mrs. Cake, her mane a mess and her eyes weary and tired, no doubt a long night for her.

"Oh Pinkie, you're back, good. We were about" Her expression changed as she looked up at the tall stallion who stared down blankly at her. Her voice suddenly shaken and her mind dry, Ms. Cake seemed to have lost herself to fright as she looked up at Sombra. He could feel his magic rise slowly as she continued to see him, internally he smiled but he was quickly taken aback when Twilight nudged him on the shoulder. With a quick glance to her it was obvious she wanted him to 'ease' her into not being afraid of him. Though every cell in his body wished to continue to drain dark magic from the blue earth pony in front of him, he knew that he could not defy her...yet. With a sigh, he began to speak.

"My name is Sombra, I am in Twilight's care at the moment and Pinkie here is suppose to help me...'see the light.' It is a pleasure to meet you." Sombra said as he reached for Mrs. Cake, raising her hoof to place a small kiss upon it. The gesture seemed to have brought her back into reality only to have her blush slightly as an inaudible sound escaped her mouth.

"Hey! Mrs. Cake is married!" Pinkie shouted at Sombra whom backed away to give the mare some space.

"Calm down Pinkamena, I was just greeting her." He said as he brushed off the glare both she and Twilight were giving him. They were allowed in and soon afterwards found out why Mrs. Cake looked so tired. It seemed that they had a very large order to fill. A huge pastry stood in front of them.

"Wow Pinkie....That's a huge cake..." Twilight said as she sweated slightly.

"Yup, I helped make some of it lastnight, but Mr. and Mrs. Cake stood up all night to finish it."

"That's right, now we need to deliver it to Canterlot by noon so, we'll have to leave the kids behind for a few hours, You can handle it right?" Mrs. Cake asked as she began to prepare the pastry for transportation. Mr. Cake soon joined them and greeted every pony, all except Sombra, which he didn't mind. Sombra would rather not have any more interactions. The preparations were soon complete and they were off with a final goodbye to the trio who proceeded to sit at the living room for a while.

"The kids should be asleep right now, so lets stay quiet until they wake up." Pinkie said as she hopped from one place to another, looking for something to entertain herself with. Twilight nodded in agreement as she took out a book form her saddle to read while time passed. Sombra, on the other hoof, was more intrigued by the vast amount of pictures all around. In his time, if one wanted some sort of physical representation of an event, they needed to have it painted. These photographs hung across the walls were very nice and detailed, at least for some pony used to paintings. Still, they did not seem to have the same feeling of creativity. He was quickly brought back to reality when Pinkie suddenly popped in front of him.

"Whatcha looking at?" She asked, even though it was obvious. Sombra decided to humor her and answered.

"In my time, there were no such things as pictures." He said as he pushed the mare to the side so he could see the frame again. "In my research of modern time I came across an article about the first camera that allowed for instant framing of a scene, I found it amazing how far technology had come."

"Want to have you're picture taken? I have a camera upstairs!" Pinkie said as she too looked at the picture on the wall. Most of them were taken by her, so it was nice to have some pony to appreciate them every once in a while.

"No thank you, I still prefer the old method of having your portrait painted."

"Do you paint?" Twilight asked, suddenly curious as to Sombra's view on art. He was still just 'The Tyrant of the Crystal Empire' to her, she wasn't used to seeing this side of him.

"I've tried my hoof at it once, yes. Nothing to boast about." Sombra said, his eyes not breaking contact with the pictures. Silence fell the room again, but this time it was quickly broken by a loud shriek. The stallion cringed as the cry pierced his ears.

"Oh no!" Pinkie cried out as she ran to the foals who had suddenly began to scream and cry. "What's wrong? Are you hungry? Do you need your diaper changed?" The pink mare asked frantically. She hated to see any pony without a smile, so having children cry was always hard on her, and like always, she tried her best to get them happy again. As Sombra began to step towards the room where they were at, he was stopped by Twilight.

"Uh, it's best if you hang back here. Don't want them to cry out even more when they see you." She said. Though he wanted to protest, he simply nodded and went back to take a seat. Finally, running out of ways to try to calm them down, Pinkie ran quickly into the kitchen and brought back a large sack of flour. The next few sound was that of a popping noise followed by laughter.

"Phew" Pinkie said as she walked back into the living room, her entire body white as a ghost.

"Uh, Pinkamena, why did you bathe yourself in flour?" Sombra asked as he stared at her.

"Oh, they like it when that happens. It might be a waste of flour, but it gets them happy so it's okay." Pinkie responded with a giggle. Her white coat was quickly taken off of her when Twilight used her magic to clean her up. The stallion was confused to say the least. Was this normal for this time period? Or simply something Pinkie did? He continued to ponder on the thought as silence soon returned and peace reestablished.

"So...did you paint a lot before you became a ty-...king?" Twilight asked as Sombra lifted his gaze from a magazine that he had found nearby.

"Yes." He answered, though the alicorn wanted to know than just that.

"Like what?"

"Landscapes, portraits, stuff of the like." He again responded dryly. Pinkie had gone to wash herself of the flour and had just returned.

"So whatcha talking about?" She asked as she took a seat next to Sombra on the couch, who proceeded to use his magic to push her back a few inches.

"Oh, just wondering how Sombra painted is all." Twilight said as she returned her gaze to her book, catching the hit that he did not want to talk about it.

"Ooooh, cool. So what did you paint?"

"Like I said, portraits and-"

"Did you pain anyone in particular?"

"Uh...yes..." Sombra responded hesitantly.

"Who who who?!"

"A mare I knew a long time ago."

Pinkie gasped as she suddenly jumped to conclusions, but before she could say anything else, again the foals began to cry. With a sigh she stood back up and spoke bleakly.

"I'll get the flour..."

As she left the room for the kitchen, Sombra too stood up, his hoof steps muffled by the children screaming and Twilight deep into her book to notice him move. By the time Pinkie had returned with the bag of flour, she noticed that the crying had stopped, but more so, that Sombra had disappeared.

"Uh, Twilight? Where did Sombrie go?" As her words left her mouth, Twilight quickly jumped up and screamed.

"The kids!" They both hurried into the foals room only to see it completely black, no doubt work of dark magic. The room was dead black and both mares freaked out. Twilight's horn began to glow and with a powerful light, dispelled the darkness only to find a remarkable sight.

"Be careful Sparkle." Sombra said as he gently rocked the foals with a dark magic aura, both sound asleep. "If you suddenly turn on the lights like that you might wake them." Sure enough, Pumpkin and Pound's eyes wrinkled as they began to cry again, but a soft hum of the old king seemed to calm then down as the gentle and warm aura wrapped around them. As if a bed sheet, the dark magic surrounded them as they were slowly brought back into their dreams and gently set back down on their cradle. Sombra gestured them to return to the living room and once the door was shut, Pinkie hugged Sombra.

"Oh my gosh! I didn't know you were so good with foals!" Her excitement was met with a hoof to her mouth to stop her from talking and pushing her away.

"Do you want to wake them again?" He asked as he made his way back to his seat.

"Why did you use dark magic like that?" Twilight asked, a little curious and disturbed by how just 'evil' magic could be so gentle and carrying.

"Let me ask you something Sparkle, why are children afraid of the dark?" Sombra asked as his eyes returned to the magazine.

"I don't know, cause they can't see and it's scary to them?"

"Wrong. Truth is, children aren't scared of the dark, they are scared of what is in the dark, but if you show them that there is nothing there and that the darkness is only there to help embrace them in their dreams, they won't scream and shout."

Twilight wanted to protest something, anything. It felt wrong to her to have darkness win so easily, but then again he was right and there was nothing to fight about. She too was afraid of the dark once, thinking that monsters hid on the dark corners of her room, but once she learned that there were no monsters she was no longer afraid. Pinkie took a seat next to Sombra again as she looked at him with a sparkle in her eyes. Twilight couldn't help but admire the stallion, if only for a moment.

7. Time to Go

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Sombra's hooves echoed on the cold ground, his grey coat was in full display as a saddle swayed back and forth, the contents heavy. He soon came to a stop and looked over to an open door, he was greeted by a smile of a foal. He could almost be called a colt, but he wasn't there just yet.

"And how are you today?" Sombra asked as he kneeled down to pet the youngling on the head, ruffing up his mane and getting a giggle out of him.

"Goo!" The foal replied, doing his best to say 'good', but not quite there. This brought forth a chuckle from Sombra as he used his magic to levitate the foal into the air, playing with him for a while before a newcomer looked from the door way. Sombra had not yet noticed the spectator, but that was fine with her, the mare softly leaned against the door hinge as a smile stretched over her face.

"Having fun?" She finally asked. Sombra turned around as he held the child over his head. The sudden voice had caught him off guard and the magic holding the foal up suddenly went out, causing him to land on the stallion's head, holding himself up by his mane.

"Uh, yes. I just came back from the market, picked up some food." Sombra responded, looking away as he tried to hide his embarrassed face. With a giggle, the mare stepped closer to him, her blue coat sparkled like a crystal as she reached for her foal from on top of his head. The youngling, not wanting to get off, hid his face behind Sombra's spiral horn, but it was to no avail, his mother could see him and was soon yanked off the dark stallion.

"You should be more careful." She had began.

"Diane, I can carry a foal with my magic just fine. Sure I may not have magic strong enough to move a boulder but-" The mare placed her hoof to his muzzle, causing him to shush.

"I mean you're wounds silly. You shouldn't go to the market when you haven't quite healed from...whatever it was that hit you." She said with caring eyes, eyes that held a shine in the shape of a hexagon, a crystal pony's trademark along with their coat.

"I had to do something, you know I hate not doing anything and..." As he spoke, the stallion came to a realization of some sort. His voice had lost enthusiasm and his eyes were only opened half way with a hint of sadness to them. "And....this isn't real." He finished with a sigh.

Closing his eyes, the crystal mare in front of him dissolved into the wind along with the entire structure. Slowly opening up his vision again, his armor had once again appeared on him and his horn became a red spike. Sombra sighed as he turned around and saw a familiar face.

"Do you not have better things to do than enter my dreams?" He asked as he walked passed the tall mare.

"We did not wish to intrude, but We felt thou hath fallen asleep...and thought perhaps We could pay thee a visit." Luna said as she glanced at the old king walk past her. "That....wasn't the same dream as every night." She finished, a worried face upon her.

"No, it wasn't. You have Pinkamena to thank for that." Sombra responded suddenly, bringing the old scenery from how the Crystal Empire looked back in his time. Again he stared out into the snowy terrain as he sat in the grassland. Over time, he had gotten a good grasp of being able to control his dreams. It came from a thousand years of practice along with not wanting to relive memories such as these.

"Art thou alright, thou seems...troubled."

"I am fine...just...fine." He said, lowing his head as he remembered the foal he had just played with. A distant memory that he had all but forgotten. A precious moment of peace in his past. Again Princess and Tyrant sat next to each other to gaze at the dreamy scenery until Sombra would awaken, something the stallion was almost begging for at this point. He did not wish to remember anything.


The dark stallion slowly opened his eyes as a soft giggle went into his ears. He must have dosed off while he was watching the foals play. Pumpkin, whom he had to come to find was quite the explorer, was currently in the middle of climbing the ex king. With a soft sigh of annoyance he used his dark magic to slowly pull her off of him before looking at her with strangely melancholy eyes.

"She seems to like you." Twilight's voice said as she watched Sombra interact. He had forgotten she was there, and her voice was not a pleasant reminder. His stoic expression returned as he stood up to place Pumpkin back in her crib. As he walked away, the poor foal reached out to him with her small arms.

"I just know how to treat foals." Sombra responded as he went back to the spot of the couch that he had come to claim as his own.

"Where did you learn?" Twilight asked with a giggle, a laugh that soon faded when he suddenly turned around to face her.

"A long time ago, none of it matters now." His voice stern and almost loud enough to be called 'aggressive'.

Silence fell in the room as Sombra's words began to resonate with Twilight. It was a little rude of him to respond like that, but then again, they weren't exactly on good terms to exchange personal experiences. The quiet in the atmosphere did not last long as Pinkie suddenly bursted in the room, Pound on her head as he tried to chew her mane.

"I'm baaack~" Her overly peppy voice echoed through out the house. "Pound is all nice and clean now that I changed him." Twilight threw her friend a smile as she used her magic to levitate the foal into the crib with Pumpkin, whom greeted him with over arms.

"So one is a unicorn and the other a pegasus?" Sombra said to no one in particular, his brow raising slightly. "I smell foul play."

"Of course there's foal play, babies love to play!" Pinkie responded. The old king wasn't sure if she didn't understand what he meant, of simply masked it with an innocent comment. He shrugged the comment off as he stretched his neck. His unexpected nap seemed to have left him less rested than he was before. He blamed it on his unpleasant dream, or rather, reminder.

"They're late." Sombra finally said to shake his thoughts away from the road they were heading on.

"Well, they did go to Canterlot." Twilight began. "Maybe they got held up by potential costumers. The Cakes are a rather well know catering business there."

"Yeah! I get to visit Canterlot a lot when they needed extra help, but ever since they had twins I've been staying back to foalsit them." Pinkie said, trying to fit more exposition for Sombra's sake. Something he really did not mind too much, it was one of the few times he would allow Pinkie to talk none stop about. It was nice to have some pony explain things to him instead of having to do research to understand something as basic as what a 'timer' or a 'stove' was. Speaking of which.


A loud noise was heard from the kitchen which prompt the pink mare to jump to her hooves.

"Oooh, you're bottles are ready!" She told the foals who were currently playing with one another. She was gone and back almost as fast as a wolf on a chase of it's prey, her antics once again taking Sombra by surprise but left Twilight unaffected. There was a silence again in the room that the old king seemed to enjoy, a moment of quiet, or rather, peace. Like it or not, his time as king had left him with little time for himself, and even less once he had become a Tyrant, which one would think would be the opposite. Memories from back then were a little scarce, even for him, but he was sure that he had been kept rather busy, so a moment of rest and quiet was something he seemed to cherish in his time of 'reforment'.

"Here you are!" Pinkie shouted at the twins as she gently squeezed a few drops of milk onto her hoof to test the temperature, content with it, she allows them to drink up. Sombra's eyes looked directly at the foals eating, how happy they seemed and how much they reminded him of the foal he used to know. Without saying a word, he stood up and began to walk away. Twilight and Pinkie stared blankly for a second before speaking out.

"Sombra, where are you going?" Twilight asked first.


"You're not allowed to go anywhere without Pinkie." She reminded.

"I'll head straight to the library." Sombra responded coldly as he reached the door. But as he tried to open it, it was closed shut by purple magic, which only tested his patience.

"Umm, Sombrie..." Pinkie tried to say, but was quickly interrupted by the stallion.

"Sparkle, let me out, now."

"No, we've gone over this, you can't go anywhere without Pinkie or me, and we're going to stay right here to foal sit."

Sombra looked back, his cold eyes glaring at the princess who only returned his leer. They remained locked in some unspoken staring contest or sorts, only increasing the tension in the room. Twilight was unsure of what had happened, it seemed like Sombra had taken a liking to the foals and seemed to have made some progress in being reformed, her mind began to cloud with questions, so much so, that she had not noticed the lights flicking for a second of two. Once every pony looked around at the lights who had been going on and off, they heard a strange noise, like wind blowing against trees. Twilight looked back at Sombra only to find that he was gone, a dark smug remained under the door. It seemed that he had turned into his ghastly dark shade to slip under it. Frustrated, she stood up and said.

"Argh, Pinkie you stay here, I'll go get Sombra." Twilight was already out of Sugarcube corner before the pink mare could even respond. She stood there quietly for a while as she found herself alone, unsure of what had just happened, she was brought to reality when Pumpkin began to cry.

"Oh, there there Pumpkin, Sombrie and Twilight will be back soon." She said as she picked up the foal, trying to comfort her as best she could. Pinkie looked over to the door which had remained only half open from how rushed Twilight was in her exit. Some how, she had a very bad feeling about what was about to go down. A very bad feeling.

8. The Mare Who Cried "Sombra"

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Hooves clopping on the ground as she ran, Twilight looked left and right for the dark stallion that just escaped her watch. You'd think a tall menacing figure would be easy to spot, but it was like he had just vanished, no pony had even seen him leave Sugarcube corner and it was really starting to irritate her.

"Where in Equestria did Sombra go?" She asked herself as she come to a stop to catch her breath. Again she glanced around the busy town, clearly no pony had seen him lest they'd all have run away by now. It was so bizarre for her. Her mind raced, different scenarios came to mind, most of them bad. She could not allow the old tyrant king to be alone for very long, it was clear he was still not reformed, at least to her. Twilight had not trusted him since he had arrived, but even less now.

Her breathing returning to normal, Twilight did what she always does when in trouble, go to the one pony who could assist her. Her gaze shifted to Canterlot as she devised the best method to get in contact with Princess Celestia. Surely she would know how to find him, and if it came to it, stop whatever he mind do. Meeting her in person would be the best thing to do, having Spike send a letter might get to her faster, but the sun goddess might not be able to aid her from so far away, however with her newly gained wings, she could arrive in Canterlot in just a few minutes. Her wings stretched out, she pressed tremendous force into them for a quick take off and off she was to the castle.


A soft yawn escaping her lips, Fluttershy waves her hoof at bird that passed her by. She had had a very stressful day the day prior and it had kept her up a large bit of the night, but that doesn't change that she had duties to perform of her own. As always, he kept the forest critters fed and she had some patients come earlier that day. She was the sort of 'vet' for Ponyville, and although she didn't really like meeting new people all the time, she oh so enjoyed bringing animals back to health. But the recent secession had left her with a short amount of supplies for remedies.

Another yawn was heard as her yellow hooves began to echo in the forest she was entering. The Everfree forest, though she was terrified of it at first, was now just like her backyard. She had formed a habit of going in and getting some herbs to used, a tip she got from Zecora. The herbs she was in need at this moment happen to the ones that were pretty far into the forest. Not a problem usually, but her lack of sleep was showing as she wobbled slightly with each step she took.

As she walked, she would say hello to a creature here and there, none of animals held aggression towards Fluttershy since she had probably helped them at one point or another, making it a breeze to make trips into the Everfree. As monkey hung from one of it's long fore arms to greet the yellow Pegasus, it's long fangs showed as he smiled. Again Fluttershy stopped to say hi, that monkey being a constant companion when hunting for herbs. She had helped him once and he always come by to say hello when in the vicinity, but as she walked away, the monkey scratched it's head. A soft grunt was heard from him as he watched her go...that was not the usual path she would take when ever she came around.

Fluttershy seemed to have drifted to sleep suddenly, but her legs kept walking, though unstably. She finally woke up when she hit her head against something. After a quick yelp, she looked around her surroundings and realized she had absolutely no idea where she was. She must have walked too far, or at least she thought. The sudden shock waking her up completely, Fluttershy quietly turned one eighty degrees and walked back in a straight line, but after a few minutes, she soon found out she was no where close to her original path. Her sleep walking must have not been very straight. Panic began to rise inside of her, but this wasn't the first time she had gotten lost. Yes, all she had to do was do as always, fly straight up and look around, surely she could still see a distinct land mark form the air.

Leaving her saddle on the ground, Fluttershy look to the air. A quick glance made it clear she had walked quite a long distance, but sure enough, she saw the mountain Canterlot was placed on quite far in the distance.

"Oh dear, how long did I sleep walk for?" Fluttershy asked herself as she gently came down to the ground, but to her surprise, the ground was much softer than she remembered. Blinking a few times, Fluttershy looked down to see she was standing on a strangely illuminating creature of great stature. An Ursa Minor as she would recall who had taken quite an interest in the saddle bag she had left and it's contents. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Ursa Minor, that's mine. Could you please give it back?" She asked as she took to the air again, this time to hover in front of the bear like creature.

A grunt was heard as the large creature began to chew on the saddle slightly while laying on the ground, it was a rather hard task for it being so large and the saddle so small, but it was fixated on it.

"No no, I need it, can you please give it back?" Fluttershy asked as she reached for the saddle. She managed to grab on to it, but as if trying to play tug-of-war, the giant creature pulled back on it, a quick yank that managed to throw Fluttershy away on to a tree, and although mostly unscathed, was rather angry with the lack decency from the Ursa Minor.

"Hey! That wasn't very nice Mr! You could have really hurt me." Fluttershy's sudden scold took the Ursa by surprise. "You are much bigger than me, so you have to be very careful not to hurt those around you, or else you end up looking like a mean ol' bully, do you want the other creatures to think you're a bully?" She continued her lecture. By this time, the Ursa was in distraught, probably had never been lectured before and began to weep. Taking notice, Fluttershy flew closer to pet it on the head. "There there, you're not a bad Ursa Minor, you're just not careful and-"

Her words were suddenly interrupted by an ear piercing roar. As Fluttershy cringed at the sound, large poundings were heard as something very large made it's way to their location. The trees soon split to the side as the sheer size of what stood before them was so large everything in it's path was thrashed. The Ursa Minor quickly ran up to the even larger creature of the same kind, it's mother and more so, an Ursa Major.

"Oh, you must be the mom, I'm Fluttershy and-" Again she was interrupted as another roar was heard, the Ursa Major not pleased with her child weeping. "No, it's a misunderstanding I was just trying to..." It was useless to try to explain, before she could even finish the sentence the large creature swung it's claw at her, only barely able to avoid it.

"Oh...oh my.." Fluttershy said as she soon found out this might be just out of her control.


Not too far into the Everfree forest sat Sombra who was at the moment looking at a reflection in a small pound he found. Though he had told Twilight he would go to the library, he ended up simply walking off to this secluded place. He wasn't sure what he was doing, just the night prior he had made up his mind about escaping and wrecking havoc, but now....

"Why did I waste so much of my dark magic on those foals?" He asked his reflection. Unlike normal unicorn magic, the magic he had used to ease the foals to sleep was on a limited supply, so why did he use it? He knew clear well what he was doing and did it anyway. Sombra could not fathom just why. He sighed as he laid down on his stomach, the image of the foal from his memories beginning to come back to him.

"Why won't you just go away?" He asked the image as he closed his eyes. "I don't want to remember you Fetch..."

Luckily for him, however, his mind was soon relieved of anything interior when a loud screeching roar echoed through the forest. The made him stand up quickly as he looked around as to where it was coming from. Trembles spread through the ground as pounding was heard, something huge was on it's way to him, but more than anything, suddenly his dark magic rose as his flames of fear erupted from his eyes. The combustion surprised him as he could feel his power returning, but unsure as to why, though the answer soon came.

Looking up, he saw a yellow Pegasus fly towards the Ponyville, it's speed quite surprising for such a timid mare. Of course Sombra was able to recognize her, Fluttershy had been on his mind for a while, mostly wondering whether to pay her a visit or not to absorb some power, but that was no longer necessary. His power leeching off of her, the earlier mystery was answered as well as the pounding came closer and louder towards him. With a quick jump away, he barely avoided being stomped by a huge creature of which he had never seen before, but it's intentions quite clear.

Slightly interested, Sombra made his way back to town to see it under chaos. A beautiful sight to him no doubt, the huge creature now thrashing about, making a mess of the place. All the citizens ran about trying to protect themselves from it's wrath. A smirk spread across the old king's face as a plan began to brew in his head. With this creature here he could simply stroll around and absorb his dark magic from the masses, but the chaos was so great that he could already feel it from here. Escape was well within his grasp as the possibilities began to come to him. This was just way too perfect for the tyrant king.


Twilight had just made it to the Castle in Canterlot. Her mind was ironically clouded with the devastation Sombra would bring to Equestria. The princess quickly made her way around and as she walked she was constantly greeted by the maids and guards stations in the castle. She did her best to contain her urgency, not wanting make ponies anxious as to why she would be worried. As she finally entered the throne room, her destination, she was greeted by a gentle smile.

"Why hello Twilight, I wasn't expecting to see you so soon." Celestia said as she stood from her throne. Making her way to her ex apprentice, they met halfway.

"Hello Princess Celestia, actually, I have a bit of a problem." She began, suddenly making the conversation a little too serious for Celestia's taste, she wasn't one to like when things went south.

"Is something the matter?"

"It's Ki- Sombra. Sombra escaped from me and Pinkie when we were foal sitting and I'm worried of what he might be doing." This caused the monarch to raise an eyebrow.

"You left Sombra alone while you and Pinkie Foal sat?

"What? No! I mean, the three of us were foalsitting."

"I see, so did you ask Sombra if he wanted to foal sit?" Celestia asked as she tried to get the entire story from her.

"Well no, it was actually Pinkie who sort of forced him, but it wasn't like he didn't like it! He was pretty good with the foals, cradled them and got them to go to sleep so went he suddenly wanted to leave and I told him no but he escaped anyway, it just worries me." Twilight who was speaking rather quickly was quieted when a hoof was place at her shoulder. Again met with a smile she stopped talking so the tall mare could speak.

"So Sombra was more or less forced to foal sit, did it anyway, and well as you say, and when he finally wanted to leave and you denied him that request he escaped? It doesn't really sound like he's at fault here Twilight." Celestia said as she began to defend the ex tyrant.

"But...I still don't trust him alone."

"So that's what this is about? You don't trust that he's going to keep his end of the deal and try to become reformed?" Celestia said as she gestured her friend to walk along side her. The pair made their way out into the hall and they spoke as she stretched heir legs.

"Well of course! How do you expect me to trust a tyrant who ruled with an iron hoof and traumatized an entire empire? How can you trust him so easily is my question."

"Oh Twilight, back when he reappeared in the Crystal Empire I too thought he was a ruthless pony, but as Luna visited his dream during our impasse at a battle, she found that he had a much gentler side of him, one he hid from those around him. I knew it then that he could definitely be reformed."

"That's all well and good, but I still think we should have a back up plan incase of..." Twilight's voice died down as Celestia turned to look at her, however, before neither of them could say another word, a guard ran up to them.

"Princesses! Ponyville is being attacked!"

Twilight gave Celestia a look as they both began to process what was just told to them.


Sombra was at an all you could eat buffet as he walked up the streets of Ponyville. As all the citizens ran past him he breathed in the huge amount of dark magic entering his body. Though he wish to stay longer, he knew that it wouldn't be long before some sort of back up or artillery to arrive, and surely enough, he would be blamed for this. If there was ever a time to retreat, it was now. With his magic at about sixty percent, he was content enough to leave. His red cape blew around as he turned to walk out of town. But there was a rather recognizable scream coming form nearby.

"Sombrie? Sombrie!?" Pinkie cried out as she searched for him. The foals were on her head as she ran around the falling debris. Her tail shaking every so often to indicate a falling object nearby which she was able to avoid. The Ursa Major was dangerously close, not that there was much she could do about that. A single step for the enormous creature was a good jog for any pony. The Ursa lifted it's claw as it was about to trample the pink mare and foals. Her pinkie sense told her it was time to move, but Pumpkin had slipped off of her head and landed on the ground, and though unharmed, was in the area where the claw was about to smash down. Pinkie ran back to get the fallen child and for some reason, called his name.


As the old king turned around, his eyes opened wide as he saw something entirely different. On the ground laid a crystal pony, the one from his dreams along with her foal who too called out to him


The crystal pony's voice resonated in his head and his cat light pupils thinned even more, the flames in his eyes combusting greatly.

"GET AWAY FROM THEM!" Sombra cried out as he dug his hooves into the ground as his horn glowed black as it bubbled a sickly green and purple color.. Behind him a black crystal sprouted from the dirt, a crystal that grew at a horizontal line which propelled him forward at an unimaginable speed. Before Pinkie even realized it, he was been tossed over Sombra's back as he held Pumpking in his mouth by her nape. The armored stallion gently put them down as his irises faded into the green glow of his eyes, the flames in full throttle. Leaving them behind, he made another black crustal erupt from under him as he propelled up to the Ursa Major's height.

This was a sign of aggression to the creature as it swung it's huge arm at Sombra, an arm that came to a stop when yet another crystal suddenly busted out of the ground to block it, but more so, it wrapped around the Ursa's wrist, locking it in place. From the great height from where he stood, Sombra's vision began to change, almost as if under some sort of illusion. Around him was not a burning Ponyville, but his Crystal Empire under attack by this beast. Seeing his home in such a condition angered him even more than he already was.

"How dare you attack this place?! Do you not know who you're dealing with?! I AM KING SOMBRA, AND THIS IS MY DOMAIN!"

Sombra said as he made even more of his crystals sprout out which he used as blunt objects to attack with. The first crystal hit like an uppercut to the Ursa Major, but the second attack was grabbed with the free arm only to have it trapped as well with the same method. As the creature adjusted it's remaining footing, he could hear the destruction down below. Unwilling to bring any more damage to the place, Sombra mustered up more of his dark magic to sprout dozens of crystal pillars that were used to not just hit the Ursa, but propel it back into the Everfree forest. A loud crash was heard as it landed. It laid still for a second before it struggled to it's feet. It made for it's retreat and Sombra was about to follow suit to continue on the attack , but when the crystal pillar he was standing on moved forward, there was a tug at his cape.

"P-Please don't hurt it anymore!" Fluttershy said as she grabbed Sombra's attention. Seeing the old tyrant in such a state was certainly frightening for her, and it showed as the flames erupted form his eyes further, but she stood her ground. "It was my fault it was mad in the first place. It learned it lesson so please let it go...if you don't mind...please..."

Sombra's irises began fade back as his thoughts become more coherent, finally realizing what he had done, he slowly nodded and made the crystal pillar he stood on shrink until he was back on ground level. As he stood there, in the middle of the destroyed town, every pony peeked out to look at him and eerie silence took hold of the atmosphere. That was, until Sombra was suddenly hit by a purple spell which knocked him off his feet, the magical attack retraining him as if some sort of net, wrapping against his extremities.

"There you are! How there you attack Ponyville!" Twilight says as she flew down, landing near Sombra. At this point the old king thought about using even more of his dark magic to defend himself, but he was almost drained from having dealt with the Ursa Major.

"Wait!" Pinkie called out as she jumped in front of Twilight, her arms stretched apart out to defend him. "He didn't attack Ponyville! Sombrie actually saved us! He pushed back the Ursa Major!" As Pinkie spoke, Pumpkin jumped off her head and also stretched out her arms to mimic Pinkie's gesture. "See? He even saved me and Pumpkin when we were about to get crushed!"

"But I saw him do nothing when the Ursa was attacking!" A voice form the crowd yelled out. Twilight looked at Pinkie for an explanation, but she was left speechless and turned to Sombra for an answer. The stallion thought for a second as he remained stoic on the outside.

"I needed to drain some dark magic from the ponies around here, I was left powerless remember? I could do nothing until I had replenished enough energy to fight." Sombra lied as he did his best to give a reasonable explanation.

"Y-Yeah, I was the one who accidentally brought the Ursa to Ponyville." Fluttershy said as she flew down to defend Sombra.

Whispers and murmurs were heard from the crowd as ponies began to both defend and attack Sombra's actions, however, they were all silenced when they saw a very bright light come down from the sky and land close to Sombra. Celestia's presence gave the entire town a calmed feeling as she stood next to them.

"It sounds like Sombra did all he could with what he had." She said as her horn glowed, releasing him from his restraints, allowing him to stand once more. "Don't you think you might be judging him a little too harshly? Every pony seems to agree that it was the Ursa Major who caused the damage, and that it was Sombra who ultimately pushed it back."

Distraught, Twilight looked down as she fought her urge to restrain Sombra again. "I..I guess you're right..." She finally said after a moment of thinking. As she backed off, Pinkie immediately turned around to hug the old king.

"Oh Sombrie I was so worried!" This shocked Sombra, as he quickly pushed her back.

"Mare! What did I say about hugging me?!" He screamed as his eyes blew up in purple flames.

"Now now Sombra." Celestia said with a small giggle. "You don't want to scare more ponies now do you?"

He did, in fact, want to do just that. But he knew now was not the best time, or anything for that matter. The moment he looked around he pondered why he did what he did, for now he was in a horrible situation, and his only thoughts were that perhaps things could only get worse from here. Sombra glanced around again to see ponies beginning to get close, only proving his worries. None of them were afraid of him...

9. New Threads

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Sombra sat in his 'study', or rather, the desk that he had taken as his own in the library. Books upon books were stacked on the small table he sat at, remaining motionless as his eyes moved across the text, he was suddenly interrupted by a loud smash. Sombra sighed as he shrugged off the noise and continued to read more of the history he had missed in his thousand year banishment. Again, another loud hit of some sort. A grunt was heard as he once again tried to concentrate on his readings until...


In an annoyed reaction, Sombra leaped from his seat and made his way outside to where the noise was originating from. As he stepped out he saw the entirety of Ponyville under heavy reconstruction from the recent Ursa Major attack. None of those noises bothered him, they were much too far in the distance to hear them inside, but to his own bad luck, the library itself received a small amount of damage and was under repairs as well.

"Must you be so loud?" The old king asked the red stallion whom had a hammer in his mouth at the time. The rather big farm pony slowly turned to look at him as he set the tool down. He was currently working on a damaged portion of the trunk, which left unattended could destabilize the library and have it come crushing down.

"Eeyup." He responded before getting back to work. Using the hammer to nail a frame down, which is when Sombra noticed something peculiar.

"Say...that loud noise from before...did it come from the sudden appearance of that large hole you're currently framing?"


"And what...pray tell, was the point of adding more damage to what you're repairing?"

"Don't worry Sombra dear." A voice from behind him said as she grew near. "You're room is just getting a little bit of a renovation." The mare finished as she sent a rather happy smile at him; it filled him with dread.

"You're the seamstress from a few days ago." Sombra said as the two came close enough to talk properly.

"Why yes, Rarity is my name and it seems that a few days is all it took for you to cause trouble. I must say, having the entire town almost destroyed by an Ursa the day after you arrived, it's like Trixie all over again, of course, Trixie did not have the manners you do."

To this Sombra scuffed as he turned his gaze to the door. He was all too ready to say good bye, but he was a gentlecolt, a mannerism he was almost too eager to give up on but he didn't exactly want to attract any attention in his current state. As he walked over he used red magic to open the door for the white mare, though Rarity thought it strange for him to not used his dark bubbly magic, but she shrugged it off.

"So, I finally finished your new outfit, though I must say it took longer than expected due to some, um, minor damage to my boutique. Any who, shall we see how it fit?"

Sombra sighed, not really wanting any interaction at the moment, but he had indeed been sitting down reading for far too long, perhaps some fitting would be a good break, after all, that's what he did during his time as king. A little nostalgic activities never hurt any pony so he nodded as he came close. With a happy smile Rarity began to unpack her saddle which held his new outfit. As she began to help the clothing on she couldn't help but ask.

"Are you feeling ill dear?"

"No, why do you ask?"

"Well, it's just that the flames from your eyes, they seem rather small." Rarity said as she fixed some of the wrinkles on Sombra's new get up before adding more layers. Silence grew between them as he failed to give a response, and though curious, the mare knew not to push the matter


With a sudden sigh, Twilight held a clipboard as she used her magic to write something down. Her annoyance came from how much paperwork came with her princesshood, she never thought she would once hate having to read and reread things on paper so much. It had been a few days since the little Ursa Major fiasco and Ponyville was well in it's way to getting back to it's former glory. The building in front of her right now was SugarCube Corner, now back in tip top shape.

"Thank you so much Princess Twilight." Mr. Cake said as he came out to greet her.

"Don't mention it, we are prioritizing the homes of those with foals and children." She replied with a smile.

Placing the clipboard under her wing she began to make her way to her next destination. As she walked through town she saw every pony at work, though it wasn't the first time this had happened, somehow she didn't feel right about this one in particular. Her recent clashing with Sombra left a bad taste in her mouth, she really did not like him getting off so easy, but then again, it wasn't like this was really his fault. Fluttershy and Pinkie made it quite clear that he was actually rather helpful when the Ursa attacked, so why did she feel so spiteful of him? Perhaps she just doesn't feel comfortable that she is sharing a roof with this 'ex tyrant'.

"Hiya!" Pinkie said as she suddenly appeared in front of Twilight, with a quick yelp, the purple mare jumped back in surprise only to get a giggle from her friend. "Sorry, did I scare you?"

"A little, though I guess I just wasn't paying attention." Twilight responded as she began to make her way around her friend.

"Something on your mind?"

"More like 'some pony'."

"Oooh, Twilight has a crush?" This caused a rather deep shade of red to spread across the princess's face.

"What? No! I'm talking about Sombra, I don't like that he's by himself while we're out here fixing this mess."
Pinkie, now walking next to her friend, only smiled as she continued talking.

"Think he's lonely?"

"That's the least of my worries. I still don't trust him being by himself, I wish I didn't have to send Spike to Canterlot to finish some work for me. I really wish I could keep some sort of surveillance on him."

"Well, Rarity is with him right now."

"What?!" Twilight responded as she suddenly came to a stop.

"Yeah, I saw her on the way over, she was going to give him his new outfit so he won't scare off ponies when they see him. I mean really, that armor and cape doesn't really scream 'reformed', you know what I mean?" Pinkie said as she waved her hoof in a rather sassy manner, no doubt for a joke, but Twilight didn't exactly see the gesture, she had already began to make her way back to the library. "Hey! Wait for me!"

Pinkie soon caught up to her friend as she began to hop along side her. Twilight had a rather serious expression on her face but the pink mare paid no mind to it and just allowed her presence to work it's magic.

"Why is Rarity alone with him? Isn't she the least bit worried?"

"Worried about what?"

"I don't know, but he's an ex tyrant! He can't be all that good, even with some 'reforming' done, I have a hard time trusting the guy."

"Oh come on Twilight, even Princess Celestia thinks he's okay, plus I think he's a pretty nice friend to have." Pinkie added with a smile.

"Oh Pinkie, you're friends with every pony."

The two of them soon arrived at the library and as Twilight's horn glowed with a purple aura to open the door, voices were heard from inside which caused her to pause.

"Be gentle please." They heard Rarity say, to which Sombra responded.

"My apologies, it has been a long time since last I did this sort of thing."

The pink and purple mare looked at each other for a second before both of them pressed their ears against the door to listen in. Ponies that passed by gave them an awkward look, but they were too busy eavesdropping to notice.

"It's quite alright dear" Rarity's voice said. "Just try to not make a mess of things."

"Easier said than done, I don't think we've had this problem if you hadn't used that strange liquid."

Both Twilight's and Pinkie's face turned red as they heard the exchange, their minds going to places they shouldn't be.

"Darling, just do your best to move in slowly, else you might damage the interior, I don't think it is wide enough for you to fit through very well."

"Is that a design fault, or simply a miscalculation?"

"A simple miscalculation, I wasn't expecting this part of you to be so thick, just slip it through as you can."

"Alright, hold still."

Finally, unable to contain themselves, they busted through the door.

"Sombra what are you doing to Rarity?!" Twilight and Pinkie asked out as they landed in, but what they saw was rather different than they had imagined. In front of them stood Sombra who was being dressed, one of his arms having trouble slipping through the sleeve of Rarity's outfit. As it finally went through, Sombra fixed his posture to show his rather stunning attire, a dark vest with a coat over it with red linings that matched his red magic.

"What do you mean Sparkle?" Sombra asked as Rarity maneuvered around him to fix up some wrinkles here and there, but for the most part it was a complete outfit. "If anything, it is this mare doing things to me."

"What? Don't you like the outfit I made?"

"The outfit is fine..."


"Was it necessary to place that strange liquid on my hooves? They're ebony black now." Sombra said as he raised a hoof for her to see, they were, in fact, quite shiny for a stallion's hooves.

"The 'liquid', is called hoof polish, and yes. You look just stunning with the outfit all together!" Rarity said as she stepped back to admire her work. Calming down after shaking off what they had imagined, the duo walked to the white mare's side to view Sombra as well.

"Oh Sombrie, you do know it's not Nightmare Night yet right?" Pinkie asked with a small giggle. Twilight joined in the laugh as she turned to the designer to ask.

"Yeah, why did you make it so much like a vampire's outfit?"

"I believed that it suited him." Rarity said as she walked over to defend her work. Using her magic to lift the red linings on Sombra's outfit slightly, she continued to talk. "It took me a good while to match the red of his horn and eyes, plus he is from a thousand years ago, this was the attire for royalty is it not?"

"Not exactly..." Sombra said as he too began to look over his odd clothing. "But it is rather comfortable. I shall wear it for now."

"Yay!" Rarity said with a large smile. The thought of word spreading that she made an outfit for Sombra would surely bring in some attention her way. As the mare basked in her own delusions of the future, Sombra made his way to Twilight.

"May I ask you something?"

"What is it?" She asked with a step backwards when he came close.

"Are there any books on dark magic? I was wondering how far they had gotten in research."

Twilight narrowed her eyes as she stared at him, not sure whether to answer him or not. "No...Dark magic isn't exactly a popular subject matter."

"That's a pity." The dark stallion responded as he turned back to his desk to continue his readings, his break having brought him some more energy to continue his research. As Twilight hesitantly left Sombra alone, Pinkie ran right up to him and read over his shoulder.

"Whatcha reading?"

"News articles of major events from the last thousand years." Sombra responded without lifting his eyes form the paper.


"Cause I have been locked away for a thousand years, if I am to be part of this world I need to be informed."

Pinkie's face held a rather large smile from ear to ear. Her grin soon annoyed the old king and with a sigh, turned to face her.

"Why are you smiling like so?"

"In other words...You mean to say that you have to catch up on world history to be a working part of equestrian society, right?" She asked with a continued grin.

"What's your point?" He asked raising an eyebrow.

"Nothing, just sounds like you're looking forward to your complete reformation." Pinkie said through her smile. Sombra's eye's narrowed as he opened his mouth to responded, but was quickly quieted when a pink hoof pressed against his muzzle. "I actually have a surprise for you!" Another sigh was heard as Sombra began to rub his forehead with his now quite shiny hoof.

"Yes?..." He hesitantly asked.

"I am making you welcome party!"

"For the love of-"

"AND! Since I am still you're reformer, you have to attend every party I plan, so even if you don't want one, I can just make a random party and you'd have to attend anyway."

Sombra really did not have much choice, and as things were now, will probably not have one for quite a while. As he turned around to look at the seamstress he noticed she had been staring at his flaming eyes, though now no more than just a small flicker of a fire. He was weak and he knew it.

"Fine. When is it?"


Twilight had left the main library room where the books were at and was currently looking through some paper work she had to do up in her room. Sombra's request still echoing in her head.

books on dark magic?

"Why does he want to learn more anyway? He is basically the strongest dark magic unicorn user as it is..." Twilight said to herself. "Does he maybe want to stage a coup? Or strike when we least expect it? Then why would he ask me directly? None of this makes any sense!"

Her mind going in circles, Twilight throws herself onto her bed, though not as dramatically as Rarity would. Staring at her ceiling she began to recall the brief moment she herself used dark magic. It was a strange sensation that had spark some curiosity in her. Were there any books on dark magic? She never found any in the Canterlot castle, but Celestia knew some dark magic, so where did she learn it?

Sitting up, Twilight stared at her reflection on the mirror across from her bed as she pondered what she was about to do. Clenching her pillow, she struggled to bring out a bubbling aura from her horn...the dark magic that she had seen her teacher use once before. As she managed to bring it out, again she looked at herself, and in the mirror was a mare with purple flames erupting form her eyes. It was rather scary to look at just how a small detail could mean all the difference. Her irises would fade back and forth between purple and red as she struggled to keep her magic going.

Her train of thought, however, was suddenly interrupted when green smoke appeared in front of her, and from it, emerged a scroll. The sudden shock had caused her to lose her concentration and her dark magic faded just as fast as it had arrived. Hesitantly picking up the scroll, she began to read it.

"Hello Twilight, Princess Celestia told me to send you a letter. You are needed in Canterlot as soon as possible. There has been an incident." As she finished the sentence, Twilight quickly stood up and recomposed herself at the mirror, after a deep breath, she ran to her window and flew out, making her way to Canterlot.

Down at the library, Sombra stared intently at the ceiling. He was sure he had felt a surge of dark energy. His eyes slowly narrowing, he couldn't shake the feeling something more was going on.

10. Just another day?

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Twilight's breathed heavy as she hastily made her way to the castle. Canterlot, though usually busy, was even more so today. Something was amiss as she flew over the noisy streets down below. It wasn't until she made it to the castle that she was able to hear the ponies talk and what she heard was rather disturbing.

"Did you hear about the body?"

"Yeah, third one this week."

The alicorn become ever more anxious as the guards spoke among themselves when she passed, some of them giving her a salute in respect, but most of them were much too busy making some sort of rounds back and forth. It was almost like if they were searching for something, or some pony. Shaking the uneasy feeling, Twilight kept on her way until she reached the throne room, a room that did not have good memories in recent times. She wasn't usually called up unless things were dire. Stopping just inches away form the large twin doors, the mare closed her eyes and took a deep breath before going inside.

What she saw as she entered was like nothing she had ever seen. The actual throne was almost buried in stacks of paperwork and there were dozens of guards stationed at practically every possible part of the interior. Lots of other ponies were there too, most of them with a tired and grim look on their face as they all passed more and more paperwork to their monarch princess. Celestia was in no better condition, with large bags under her eyes, her gaze rarely left the sheets of paper presented to her other than to grab another one. Twilight hesitantly made her way to her. As she got close, ponies began to take notice of her, stepping aside to allow her passage. Soon enough, Celestia too noticed her ex student.

"Twilight!" The Sun Goddess said as she stood to greet her, her posture curved from having sitting down so long, a series of pops were heard from her back as came to her feet. Offering a simple hug to welcome her, Celestia brought her over to the side of the throne, gesturing the other ponies to give them some room to talk. "I wish we could meet on a more happy occasion, but I need your help."

"What's wrong? I got a letter from Spike saying I was needed." Twilight responded, though she had some idea of what was going on, she was still completely lost as to what exactly she was needed for.

"Ah yes, Spike. He should be back very soon, I had sent him with a police force to investigate a recent...disturbance."

"Does this have to do with these 'bodies' I heard ponies talk about?"

"So you heard already?" Celestia asked with a grimace upon her face. "I did not wish for word to get out so soon."

"Only from the guards here!" Twilight defended as she shook her hooves in front of herself. "Though I did see the streets pretty...hectic to say the least."

The Goddess sighed as she waved her hoof, on queue, a pony placed a sheet of paper in her reach which she used her magic to levitate and show Twilight. It had a picture of a rather pale pony as it laid on the floor. It was terribly malnourished and seemed to be in a lot of pain.

"That's the first of three ponies, all within inches of death when they were found."

"What happened to them?" Twilight asked as she looked through more of the pictures that had been taken. All of the ponies seemed to be in the exact same condition. "These ponies look like they hadn't eaten in months."

"We suspect a changeling is a work."

To this the purple mare looked up in surprise. Her last encounter with changelings was less than pleasant. The sudden mention of them caused a small flicker of anger to spark within her. Though Celestia noticed, she paid no mind due to the events that had taken place during her brother's wedding.


"Yes, it's like these ponies had their life sucked out of them. They were all very wealthy ponies of high society, not ones that would starve themselves like so. We were able to interrogate one of them, he confirmed our suspicions."

"So what are we waiting for?! Lets go find these changelings!"

"Easier said than done." A voice was heard from the doors of the throne room. Spike, accompanied by ponies who dressed in brown trench coats made their way to Celestia and Twilight. Bowing in respect, the two ponies stayed back as Spike came in friendly distance of the princesses.

"Spike!" Twilight greeted. The dragon sent her a happy smile as he began to clear his throat to speak.

"We used the information that was given to us, but we couldn't find anything."

"I feared as much..." Clestia said. "Changelings aren't exactly the easiest creatures to fight, they do so covertly. They change shape and hide while slowly picking at the enemy to encroach upon them."

"What? But last year at my brother's wedding they weren't exactly subtle when they invaded Canterlot"

"That...was a different situation."

"How so?" Spike asked, stepping closer as the story sparked some curiosity in him.

"Do you remember what happened to Princess Cadence?"

"She was left for dead in the crystal caves under Canterlot"

"No Twilight, not left for dead, just left for a later time." Celestia said as she began to walk out and gestured them to follow. Twilight suddenly felt a sense of deja vu as she and Spike followed suit. Guards took their posts as the trio made their way out and they all gave them a salute as they passed. "Cadence has the ability to spread love to any pony she wants. Changelings feed on love, by sparing her and leaving every pony in Canterlot as husks, they would bring out Cadence and have her save them by using her magic to revitalize them with her love. The cycle would repeat endlessly, giving the changelings an infinite amount of food for them."

"So you're saying that their invasion was more than just trying to take over Canterlot?"


The trio came to a stop as they reached a balcony near the top of the castle. Twilight hadn't noticed where they were until just now when they reached the outside. She took a moment to digest the amazing view the balcony provided as Spike jumped onto the railing to get a better view himself.

"Aside from our small encounter with them during the 'Canterlot Wedding Fiasco', as the incident has been dubbed, I would like you to go to the Crystal Empire."

Suddenly brought back to reality by Celestia's voice, she turned to her with a puzzled look.

"To the Crystal Empire? Why?"

"They have a lot of experience with dealing with changelings. I'd ask Sombra...but I doubt he would like to recall that point in time."

"What do you mean?" Spike asked as he hopped down, he just as confused as Twilight.

"I...might be able to answer that." A mare said as she walked close to them. Though old, she seemed quite capable of moving well unlike Granny Smith whom wobbled as she walked. With a glowing parchment as her cutie mark and large circular glasses, Twilight quickly recognized the crystal pony whose coat glimmered out in the balcony with them.

"You're the librarian we met when we first visited the Crystal Empire!"

"Yes, her name is Agatha." Celestia said as she presented her. "And she might be able to give a little bit of an explanation as to why I trust Sombra more than you think I should."


Sombra, with a rather annoyed expression, laid down on his stomach as Fluttershy served some tea. They were currently in a sort of picnic, not that he had any choice in the matter. With Pinkie gone preparing his 'welcome party', the yellow pegasus was to keep an eye on him. A sigh escaped his lips as he used his red magic to grab the cup that was being offered to him. Looking up, he saw Fluttershy trying to hide herself behind her long flowing hair, a rather cute gesture but it clearly wasn't working. As his eyes met hers, a small squeak was heard followed by a sudden jolt of flames flickering.

Sombra smirked while he drank his tea, this certainly wasn't all that bad, having this particular mare around restored some much needed strength to him. Though he had to admit, she sure had come a long way from their initial encounter. At least now they could be within talking distance, not that it mattered since neither spoke.

"Umm..." Fluttershy began. "How is the tea?"

"Good, never had this kind before." Sombra quickly responded. This was her third attempt at starting small talk, but it never seemed to lead anywhere. The stallion pondered if perhaps it was his fault, but he did answer as needed, didn't complicate matters when it came to other ponies, so perhaps it was because she was much more 'shy' than 'fluttery' Though he enjoyed drinking tea in silence, the awkward atmosphere was getting to him. Perhaps he should use this time to rant on a little, might relieve some pent up frustrations with his current situation.

"Why did Pinkie want to make the 'welcome party' tomorrow?" Sombra asked out as another sigh left him. Though it was clearly a rhetorical question, the mare answered it anyway.

"Pinkie is Ponyville's party planner, she makes parties about everything. It didn't taker her very long to give Twilight a party when she first arrived. I was actually kind of surprised she waited so long."

Sombra raised an eyebrow. He wasn't expecting a response, let alone one so long from such a timid mare. At least there was a back and forth to go on, even though it was more of a complaint.

"Do you really believe Ponyville will 'welcome' me? You know? The tyrant king who rules the crystal empire with an iron hoof?"

"Why do you think they think of you that way?"

"I've read the articles from when you lot returned from defeating me a few months back, the head line was just that. Prodigy Student of Princess Celestia Returns from the Crystal Empire After Defeating the Tyrant Unicorn King" Sombra said as he moved his hooves across the air in front of him as he spoke out the headlines of the article. Fluttershy giggled as she saw how animated the stallion made the words seem.

"Okay, maybe that was true, but after you took out the Ursa Major ponies began to look at you in a different light."

"It's not that I wanted that. I was actually planning to simply walk away and let the Ursa wreck havoc." Sombra said, scoffing at the idea of having ponies 'like' him.

"But you didn't." She responded with a smile. Sombra wanted to responded, retort, in some way, but the mare was right. Even after he had made up his mind again, he still decided to stay and help. He still couldn't figure out why. Silence fell between them once more as they began to sip at their tea. This time, however, the atmosphere had made a one-eighty. He was now the one feeling awkward and Fluttershy was content with just drinking her tea.

The rest of the 'picnic' was just as uneventful, though a little odd for Sombra's taste. Every so often when he reached forward to grab some of the hoof made sandwiches, his flames would flicker. Obviously Fluttershy's fear of him fed his purple embers, but it was...different. She wasn't scared of him like others, or like she was a few days back. This fear was much much different, and he didn't know why or even how.

Finally, as the picnic came to an end, the both stood to pick things up. Fluttershy began to put the plates in her basket as she usually did. Thinking it would be only polite to help as well, Sombra used his magic to pick up and fold the blanket they had been laying on, but he did so quietly. So quietly in fact, that Fluttershy did not notice him coming up behind her with the blanket levitating only a inches away. With a sudden turn of her head, they locked eyes as the two ponies were suddenly dangerously to eachother. On queue, Fluttershy's face turned red as Sombra's flames erupted from his eyes. A reaction that neither were expecting. Silence fell between them as they remained motionless, Fluttershy frozen by how close in proximity they were and Sombra by his flame's strange reactions.

"I....I have to go!" Fluttershy screamed out as she yanked the blanket form the air and quickly ran off, leaving Sombra to his thoughts.

"What....just happened?"

He remained still as the mare began to blur in the distance. After a long pause, Sombra let out a sigh, before beginning to make his way back to the library. The walk to town wasn't very long, in fact, it was less than a minute long. Their picnic was placed so that if need be, they could get to town quickly, or rather, Fluttershy could get to town quickly. He was still a 'threat', though he knew otherwise. With such small amount of dark magic left in him, he was running on fumes. Why else would he agree to spend time with the pegasus? He needs to refill his tank, but it seems that even she has lost her fear towards him. Well, except this new strange kind of fear. One that only seems to come out when he gets too close to her. He was rather intrigued by it, perhaps there was an alternate power source for his dark magic, and if so, he needed to exploit it as soon as possible.

His train of thought was cut off by the murmurs of the towns folk. He had made it into town and was so deep into his thoughts had not noticed in which direction he was going. By chance, he seemed to have ended up at a park in the middle of town. Alone, he was a sure cause of distraught among the crowd. Like a breath of fresh air, the fear he instilled in some of the ponies' hearts powered him up slightly. At the same time, other ponies seem to be almost happy to see him. It was a strange middle ground he was standing on, but beggars can't be choosers. He needed every bit of fear he could get out of them.

Sombra felt something hit his hoof and quickly looked down to see a stone that had been thrown. He quickly thought that ponies were about to attack him, but his initial thoughts were wrong. As he looked in the direction it had come from, he saw a rather frustrated filly and her mother. Upon closer inspection he noticed the filly was a unicorn and the mom a pegasus.

"Dinky!" The grey mare said as she come close to her angry daughter. "You need to be careful, you almost hit that guy."

Though upset, the unicorn filly took a deep breath and walked over to Sombra to apologize.

"I'm sorry mister..." She said as she and her mother came close to him. His expression still on fazed, he waited a few seconds before responding.

"It's quite alright. But why, if I may, did you throw that stone?"

"Because I got angry at it!" Dinky said as she once again grew upset and walked away to kick at the dirt.

"So sorry about her, Dinky isn't usually like this. She is just a little angry that she can't yet move things with her magic."

"Is that so?..."

"Oh, where are my manners, I am Derpy Hooves!" The pegasus said as she greeted him. Upon closer inspection he noticed her rather messy mane and her displaced eyes which were almost comically cross-eyed.

"Derpy Hooves? If you don't mind me saying, that is a rather strange name."

"Well, that a nickname I got from my clumsiness and my eyes, my real name is Ditzy Do."

"Ah. Well a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Do."

"Oh , it's just 'Miss'."

"Oh, I see." Sombra said as he began to put the pieces together. "And your daughter here hasn't been able to use magic?"

"Not really. She's come close. I'm sure she could do it if she practiced more...."


"Well, Dinky wants me to be around when she first uses her magic, but I work a lot and don't get many days off. I've told her to go to another unicorn that could help her, but she insists that I need to be present." Derpy sighed and looked over at Dinky who was digging at the ground with her hoof. "My breaks from my work are few and far in between. I really think she shouldn't focus so much on having me around and just practice. I fear that maybe she might fall behind other unicorns because of me, if only I was a unicorn like her I could help her in some way..."

Sombra's eyes flickered as Derpy spoke. Another strange surge of dark magic entered him, though small, it was still dark magic from fear which was really strange. Again, he drained magic that wasn't from fear directed towards him. With a quick glance to Dinky, his stoic expression became one of melancholy. Like a mirage, the distraught Dinky became an upset colt version of Sombra as he gazed upon a long forgotten memory of himself.

"Ditzy, come with me." Sombra said as he walked over to her filly who was pouting on the ground. His shadow fell over the small unicorn, causing her to turn around to look at him. "Stand up." She did just that and looked up at the tall stallion. "Dig your hooves into the ground and don't move." Though puzzled, the filly obeyed him and stomped once with each hoof. Sombra walked around the filly and inspected her. With a nudge of his hoof, the filly fell over.

"Hey!" Dinky screamed out as she came back to her feet.

"Again, and don't let me push you over."

"...Okay." Dinky said as she dug her hooves into the ground again. Once more Sombra circled around her and then with another nudge pushed against her, and though she didn't fall down, she still lost her balance.

"I'm sorry, but what are you doing?" Derpy asked as she gave Sombra a confused look.

"I am going to teach your daughter how to use her magic right here, right now."

Suddenly excited by his words, Dinky shot up in a smile. "Really?!"

Sombra nudged her and she fell over again. "If you do as I say, yes. Now stand your ground and don't let me push you over."

11. Magic Lesson

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"Sombra was quite the benevolent king." Agatha began. "He led us well and even established good political ties."

"Wait, we are talking about the same stallion right? King Sombra, the unicorn tyrant that enslaved the Crystal Empire?" Twilight responded almost mockingly.

"Well, that did happen, but it was subtle, we didn't realize his transformation until it was too late."

"Uh huh..."

The crystal librarian seemed awkward as she stood in silence. Not knowing where to begin, she would fidget back and forth.

"Is everything alright?" Celestia asked as she placed a warm wing around her, calming her nerves.

"Yes, I am just having a difficult time trying to convey my thoughts."

Twilight just couldn't seem to understand what was going on. She was confused as to Sombra's involvement with changelings, and even more with Agatha's role to play right now.

"Just start form the beginning." The Sun Goddess said as she placed a gentle wing over the crystal pony to help her feel more comfortable.

"Well, as you know, I am Agatha, the librarian from the Crystal Empire, sister to Diane, Sombra's caretaker while he stayed at the Empire."

"Caretaker?" Spike asked, a little confused. "Wasn't Sombra king? Why did he need a caretaker?

"Well, Sombra wasn't when he got to the Empire. Obviously he isn't a native to the place, he originally came from here in Canterlot. into some sort of accident and end up lost in a the middle of a blizzard with huge amounts of injuries. Diane found him and took him in. However, at the time the Crystal Empire was at war with the Changelings."

"You see." Celestia interrupted to help her ex student understand. "The Crystal Ponies power the Crystal heart with their love and kindness. That being said, the heart was like a beacon pointing at them saying 'I am full of love'. No Changeling would turn down such an invitation."

"At the time of his arrival, we were already thirty-three years into a losing war. Our initial response to him was that of distrust. We were afraid that he might be a changeling spy and wanted to throw him out, but my sister protested. As a result, she and him were placed at the outskirt of the empire." Agatha said as her nervousness simmered down. "He took a while to come around, and even once he regained consciousness he was rather weak and did not really fit in very well."

"So how did he go from out cast to king?"

"He single handedly changed the tide of the Changeling War and all but annihilated them."

This tid bit of information caught the purple duo by surprise. They knew Sombra was strong, but not that strong. A single unicorn capable wining a war like that is almost impossible, but then again, even at a fraction of his full strength, he was able to defeat an Ursa Major by himself. That sort of feat wasn't exactly easy, not pony had been able to do that before.

"Sombra is a very powerful unicorn." Celestia cut in again. "But I dare not remind him of this time period. As you have certainly seen, he doesn't exactly like to be reminded of times past. I would like you to head to the Crystal Empire with Agatha and get any info that can help us push back the changelings attacking us before the situation turns dire."

"Yes, of course!" Twilight responded as she and Spike began to make their way out before stopping abruptly, causing the small dragon to bump against her. "Wait, what about Sombra? If I leave for the Crystal Empire tonight no one will be home to watch him."

"Oh don't worry Twi, I can stay behind and make sure he doesn't cause any trouble." Spike said as he puffed out his chest.

"Speaking of Sombra, I was wondering if you could do me a favor." Agatha she stepped close, her nervousness back.


With a certain bounce in her step, Pinkie Pie hopped as she carried a basket full of party supplies. Nothing too fancy, but the essentials of any good party. As she made he way around town she wasn't being greeted like usual. Most ponies ignored her all together. Taking a look around, she noticed that almost every pony was walking away from the park not to far off. Sparking some curiosity in her, and of course, she went in the direction they were coming from. It wasn't too long until she realized why every pony was so tense.

Sombra was talking to Dinky who seemed to be at attention as if a Wonderbolt. It was rather cute, until Sombra pushed her over. Surprisingly, Dinky simply stood back and and continued to listen in what the dark stallion was saying.

"Oh hello Pinkie." Rarity said as she made her way over to the pink mare. "I take it you were curious as to the commotion as well?"

"Yeah, but it kinda looks like Sombrie is bullying Dinky." Pinkie said as she and her friend made their way to them.

"So...when are you going to tell him?" Rarity asked with a sly smile.

"Tell who what?" Pinkie responded just as nonchalant as ever.

"Don't play coy." The white mare said with a giggle. "I know a crush when I see one."

"I-uh...what?" Pinkie said as her face became slightly red from a blush spreading over her cheeks. "I d-don't have a crush on Sombrie!"

"Funny, I don't think I ever mentioned Sombra by name." Rarity teased only to have her friend turn a darker shade of red.

"Hey girls." Derpy said, interrupting the awkward conversation for Pinkie. Looking over, she quickly found an escape to her situation and rushed over to greet the mare.

"Hi Derpy! Whatcha doing?" She said with her usual smile. Rarity on the other hand, raised an eyebrow as she saw her friend avoid the conversation so quickly.

"Just watching this unicorn teach Dinky how to use magic...though his methods are weird. He's been doing this for a while now...."

The grey mare said as she and the others looked over at Sombra who was once again circling the filly before nudging at her. This time around, Dinky didn't budge, his gentle push only seemed to graze her.

"Good." Sombra finally said after such a long silence on his part. Using his horn, he levitated the stone that had hit his leg earlier and placed it in front of the filly. "Now I want you to get back into that rooted stance and command the stone to float."

"Like, yell at it?"

"If you must, yes."

The trio watching were even more confused than before, but sat patiently as Sombra walked her through the usage of magic.

"Come on...move." Dinky said as she closed her eyes, her legs strained under the strain she was placing on herself. Her horn began to spark here and there, but it was to no avail.

"Are you demanding it to move or asking?" Sombra asked as he walked over to her side. His brows furrowed as he screamed out. "Move!" Causing the stone to sky rocket upward. The stone soon came crashing down in front of them, and with a much more gentle magic, Sombra placed it back in front of Dinky. "Show it no mercy. Make it move because you command it and don't take no for an answer."

"Isn't that a little harsh?" Pinkie asked to no pony in particular, but Rarity took it upon herself to answer.

"Well, his choice of words might be a, but there is some truth to his method. When a unicorn uses their magic to move something, they are thrusting their will over it. By doing that we are basically taking control of it and making it do our biding."

Dinky, was once again straining herself as she leaned forward in her effort to cast her magic. "Move move move!" She screamed out. Her horn shot out more and more sparks, but as she came close to have the yellow aura of her horn encase the stone, she seemed to have leaned forward too much, and ended up falling forward. As she glanced up from the ground, Sombra gave her a quick glance with a cocked eyebrow.

"What happened to your stance? Root yourself on the ground and don't let the stone dictate your movements instead of the other way around."

Though a little embarrassed, Dinky quickly got back up and dug her hooves back into the ground as she regained the stance that Sombra had all but beaten into her in the last hour or so. Again her horn would spark, but this time it maintained the yellow aura that her iris color dictated as the stone began to shake in place.

"Move!" She screamed out as the stone began to compulsively move around, but in one final burst of sparks from her horn, the stone shot out in Sombra's direction. A collective sound of gasps was heard as Sombra's head tilted back form the impact of the rock hitting him and the group remained in dead silence as the stallion slowly brought his head back into position, a large black bruise over his left brow. After a quick glance at Dinky, she squeaked as his eyes met hers. Pinkie stood to try to stop the his wrath that was sure to ensued, but what came out of his mouth was unexpected to all.

"Congratulations, you managed to move the stone, you officially used your magic....but next time try to not use so much, else you might hurt some me."

Silence continued for a moment before Dinky's brain processed Sombra's words. With a loud shout, she ran over to Derpy in a tackle hug, knocking her over.

"Did you see that mommy? Did you see it?! I used magic!"

Yes you did my little muffin." Derpy responded in kind, wrapping her arms around her daughter as she flew up to toss her up gently in a little game they would play. After a quick show of affection, the mare placed Dinky back on the ground who proceeded to run up Sombra who had already began to make his way back to the library.

"Thank you so much Mister!"

"Yes, thank you for tutoring Dinky for me." Derpy jumped in as well. "By the way, what's your name anyway?" The dark stallion kept quiet as for a moment, but before he could answer, Pinkie did it for him,

"His name is Sombrie!"

"Sombra." He corrected, though it seemed to remain mostly unnoticed.

"He used to be a tyrant, and I was tasked by Princess Celestia to reform him into a good guy now." She finished with a smile. This caused a small sense of distress in Derpy as she suddenly realized who he was.

"You mean you're the unicorn who appeared on the newspaper a few months back?" She began to say. As her words left her mouth, Sombra's eyes began to spark out in flames, Derpy clearly afraid of him for his reputation. Dinky, however, had a different opinion on the matter.

"I can't wait to tell every pony in my class that the unicorn that saved Ponyville taught me how to use magic!" She shouted, her smile glimmering from side to side.

Sombra himself had mixed reactions about the situation. On one hand, he was happy there was some fear he could drain, but he some how felt unpleased that Ditzy had shifted her attitude of him so easily. With a soft sigh, he patted Dinky on her head to quiet her down a little as he turned his gaze the mares.

"It was a pleasure to meet you Ditzy Do. Pinkamena, Rarity, I trust I'll see you both at tomorrow's 'welcome party'?"

"Of course."

"You betcha!"

And with that, Sombra was off to his 'home' at Golden Oaks library. The mares too said their goodbyes and began to go their separate ways, but before leaving, Rarity made sure to say something.

"I won't tell you how to live you're life, but I wouldn't wait too long before telling him. After all, he is a very attractive stallion. You might get some competition if you wait too long." With that, she ran off, leaving Pinkie behind.

"Hey! I said it isn't like that!"


Sombra had not noticed how late it had actually gotten. With the picnic and this tutor session, it was very near dusk, with the sun barely above the horizon giving off just enough light for him to see. The sunset gave off an orange tone to the structures in town.

All in all, it had been a rather eventful day. A new outfit along with some dark power to leech, but more over, Sombra could not stop replaying the scene of him tutoring Dinky out of his head. That filly reminded him so much of his colt days in ways he couldn't explain. Whether it was the difficulty of getting the hang of magic or simply the hard time to learn how to use magic on his own, it was all too much for the melancholy stallion.

Once he finally reached the door to the library, he took a moment to regain his stoic composure before opening the door. He certainly did not want Twilight Sparkle of all ponies to see him in his moment of weakness, but as the door creaked open, his expression became anything but stoic.

"H-Hello Sombra." Agatha said as his haze met hers. The old mare seemed happy to him, but the feeling wasn't mutual. With a sudden step backwards he replied.

"Agatha....what are you doing here?"

"I was brought by Twilight. I wanted to see you, see how you were doing."

"You shouldn't have come here." He replied coldly. However, his tone did not seem to phase the old librarian at all.

"I know, but I couldn't help myself. Besides, I'm also here on political terms. I am to...assist Princess Twilight with some research. We are to leave tonight for the Crystal Empire."

"How wonderful...send my regards to the new princess of the empire." Sombra said as she walked right past Agatha. As he reached the staircase, he was met by yet another unwanted face.

"Oh hello Sombra." Twilight said as she walked down with a saddle full of supplies for the brief trip. "I presume you know that I'll be leaving town for a day or two. I do hope you'll be on your best behavior."

"Don't you worry Twi!" Spike said as he slid down the rail of the stairs and landed in the middle of the library. "I'll make sure to keep him in check. Sombra's nose twitched for a second as something foul caught his sense of smell, something familiar. He did not have much time to find out what that strange scent was before Twilight's voice brought him back.

"Thank you Spike." She said as she walked towards Agatha. "Oh and Sombra, I was wondering if I could ask you about the Changeling War you took part of."

Sombra's eyes turned dull as his turned to face Agatha, the one he assumed told her about his involvement in such an old memory he wished to forget.

"You can ask all you want, but I won't answer." He said as he began to walk to the front door.

"And where do you think you're going?"

"To get a drink in this forsaken town."

"I know some ponies have taken a liking to you since the Ursa incident, but I still don't feel comfortable with you walking around on your own."

"I'll get the pink mare on the way!" Sombra shouted before slamming the door as he exited, not waiting for a response. Agatha laughed softly as he watched him go from the window.

"Oh Sombra, you haven't changed one bit."

12. Sombra's Night Out

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Pinkie Pie had just now made it to her room at Sugarcube Corner. The night had just set in and the starts were in full view from her window on the second floor. She walked close to the window panel and placed her front legs on it as she leaned on it to gaze at the stars as Rarity's words echoed in her head.

You might want to tell him before it's too late

With a soft sigh escaping her lips, Pinkie began to think back to when she saw him at the library. She told Sombra not to fall in love with her as a joke, but it looks like the joke is on her now that she has some feelings for the dark stallion. The memory of Sombra saving her from the Ursa Major flashed before her and caused a blush to appear on her face. As a quick reflex, Pinkie buried her nuzzle into her folded arms to hide her new complexion.

"Oh this is not what I had planned at all." She said out loud.

"Is something the matter?"

"Oh, nothing really..." Pinkie responded to the voice, but after a second to comprehend what just happened, she lifted her head to find Sombra staring right at her. "Gah! Sombrie!" She screamed out, jumping back from the window frame. Sombra had used his dark magic to create a crystal pillar to take him to the second floor window where he had spotted the pink mare, something she certainly was not expecting. It was now his turn to lean on the frame as he asked.

"You do not seem all together. Are you ill?"

"No...just surprised. What are you doing here?"

"I need a favor only you could provide." This caused Pinkie to blush slightly.

"Only me?" She gulped. "And you had to pay me a my the middle of the night?" She finished as her eyes began to spin, her mind somewhere completely off the mark.

"You make it sound so dirty Pinkamena." Sombra said waving a hoof. "I need you to accompany me to any establishment where I can get myself something to drink, alcoholic preferably."

Pinkie was quickly knocked back to the real world. "Like a bar?"

"Is that the modern term for a tavern? Then yes."

"Sorry Sombrie, Ponyville doesn't have any of those, we have cider season, but that's not for another few months."

"Such a pity." Sombra said as he placed a hoof to his forehead in frustration. As he did, he flinched from touching the bruise upon his brow.

"Are you okay?" Pinkie asked with a tone of concern. Truth be told, she had been worried about that bruise since he got it, but he did not seem to bother him at the time so she had almost forgotten about it.

"Yes yes, this is nothing compared to....other times I've been wounded. Anyway, I'll be on my way." Sombra said as he began to shrink the pillar he was standing on, but was quickly stopped when he felt a tug at his clothing. A feeling of deja vu befell him as he turned to see Pinkie nervously holding onto his sleeve.

"Let me treat that bruise before you go. The stone managed to rip into your skin a little, you don't want it to get infected."

Sombra looked at the mare for a little while, the care in her eyes was enough to melt away his expressionless facade. Though he did not believe such a small wound could even get infected, he nodded to Pinkie's request. As the stallion climbed through the second floor window, a sense of awkwardness was expressed by Pinkie, something odd for such a peppy mare.

"I'll be right back." She said as she darted out to the bathroom to get the supplies she needed. As she entered the hall way, she noticed how fast she was breathing and how warm her face felt. Why was she acting like this? She was no stranger to getting crushes, but this seemed different. Was it because he was so handsome? Or perhaps the more fantasy reason, that he quite literally swepped her off her hooves and rescued her when she was in trouble. Either way, she could feel her heart gain speed when he was around.

Pinkie didn't take very long to get what she needed. Once in the bathroom she opened the first aid kit to get some rubbing alcohol and some cotton balls for the wound and a gauze and bandage to keep it clean afterwards. Once she got everything she needed she was about to go back when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. The day had been long and all the running around had made her mane have hairs sticking out everywhere, and although it was a usually puffy and bouncy, it had slightly simmered down. She placed a hoof to her chin as she though off whether to tidy it up or not.


Sombra sat on Pinkie's soft bed as he waited. She had taken quite a while and he was bored of doing nothing. A quick look around made it quite obvious who's room it belonged to. The walls were covered in pink, the furniture was pink, and even the picture frames hung everywhere were pink. Since he had returned from his imprisonment, he had developed a habit for reading. Perhaps it was because he stayed at a library or because he had spent most of his time catching up on modern times, but he was itching for something to read right now.

Sombra stood up to stretch his legs, walking around he noticed a small baby blue book. In this pink room, it was kind of hard to miss. Without much thinking, he used his magic to levitate it over to him. It didn't have any sort of title, but it did have a book mark. He opened it up to the page Pinkie had left it on and began to read. He cocked an eyebrow as he read before turning back a few pages and reading again. Sombra then skipped around from the front to the back and all around. A smile spread across his face as his eyes moved across the pages. A smile that stopped when he came to a misspelling. Using his magic he grabbed a near by pencil and began to erase the word to write it correctly. Without realizing it, Sombra had not just began editing the book, but had also climbed back onto Pinkie's bed.

"Sorry I took so long! I brought...." Pinkie began as she bursted into the room. As her eyes found Sombra on her bed, she began to sweat as she noticed what he was doing. "Uh...Sombrie?"

"Yes?" He responded without lifting his gaze from the words in the book.

"What are you doing?..."

"Just making a few corrections here and there. The writing is brilliant, but it could use some editing."

Without another word, Pinkie jumped towards Sombra in an attempted to get the book back from him, but she suddenly stopped mid air as a red aura surrounded her.

"Hey! Put me down."

"As you wish." Sombra responded as he gentle let her down beside him on the bed, as he pointed at a line in the book. "What did you mean by 'He who breaks the earth only to bring pillars of reflected light beam into the dark sky. The shadow that by being dark, can bring forth some light'."

Pinkie blushed as he read that line. After clearing her throat, she looked away as she responded.

"It refers to you..."

"What was that?"


"My apologies, I still didn't hear you."


A moment of silence fell upon them as Sombra reread the lines from before, as he did, Pinkie tried to hide herself in her front hooves.

"Oh I see, it's a poem about the night the Ursa Major attacked Ponyville." He finally said as he closed the book. He looked over at the bashful mare as she remained buried in her arms. "You know, you're kind of cute when you're embarrassed." Suddenly in a deeper shade of red, Pinkie quickly grabbed the book that had been levitating on it's own and holding it close to her as she retorted.

"Why were you reading my poem book anyway?!"

"I was bored. You were taking too long. I must say you are pretty good at writing poems."

"R-really?" She responded as she looked his way, her head lowered slightly.

"Yes, I was almost surprised with the word choice you used since you don't seem to use them when you talk."

"I like to write poetry...sometimes, when I find a nice rhythm to it, I turn it into a song."

"Is that true? You should let me hear you sing sometime."

Sombra responded nonchalantly, a response that wasn't exactly easy on Pinkie. Her cheeks were way past burning and was now slightly confined to hiding behind her small book.

"O-ok, sure. Sometime."

"Good, now about that treatment."

Suddenly, finding an escape from the awkward situation, Pinkie jumped over to the supplies she got and raised them over her head.

"Oh! I almost forgot about that!" She said as she came over to him. Sombra got slightly closer as he looked at the objects in her hooves. In his time, you treated a wound with water and a rag, bit these items were a little more complex. He made a mental note to read up on medical advancements later. Gently, Pinkie placed some alcohol on the cotton ball before lifting it up to his head. "This might sting a little."

"I am no stranger to physical pa-" His words, however, were interrupted by a sudden shout and jerk of the head when she touched the cotton to his bruise. "Sweet mother of Celestia, what was that?"

"It's the disinfectant, don't worry, the sting means it's working" Pinkie responded with a smile. Sombra on the other hoof held a slightly annoyed look, but did his best to keep still as Pinkie worked her magic. She kept a smile on her face as she rubbed more alcohol onto the cotton ball and cleaning the wound. Finally, she pressed the gauze onto it and place the bandage over it to keep it in place. "There we go." She finished with a gentle smile.

"Thank you Diane." Sombra said as he rubbed his bandage, though it was only a moment later that he realized what he said. He looked over at the mare who was cleaning up and noticed a resemblance to Diane, the crystal pony form his past. Caring and gentle, he couldn't help but feel weird about having mistaken the mares.

"So why is it that there are no alcohol based establishments in Ponyville?" Sombra said, trying to distract his mind.

"Dunno, I guess we just never needed one here. I've seen a lot of them in Canterlot, so unless you wanna take a midnight train ride, you're outta luck."

An exasperated sigh escaped the stallion as he slumped over on the bed. After such a bad reminder if his past, he really something to drown his thoughts in.

"But if you're really really REALLY desperate..."

Immediately, Sombra shot up and looked at her. "Yes?"


"Twily!" Shining Armor called out as he ran to hug his little sister. As requested by Celestia, the train made no stops until it reached the Crystal Empire, speeding up their travel and arriving the very night they had left. Twilight and Agatha quickly made their way to the royal library where all records were kept.

"Elo' Shinin'." Twilight said, her voice muffled by her brother's chest. He was unrelenting when it came to hugs and was not satisfied until he had squeezed the air out of his 'victims'.

"Oh stop that Shining, you're crushing my wonderful sister-in-law!" Cadence said as she jumped in. With a chuckle, the white stallion did as he was told.

"You know, sometimes I think you only married me cause of Twily."

"And if that was true?" Cadence teased as she stuck her tongue out at him, after that she hugged the purple mare in a much more gentle fashion. "I'm so happy to see you. We already pulled out everything from that time period."

"Remind me again what we're looking for?" Shinning said as he grabbed a file from a desk not too far away. He brought it over to himself, but it was quickly taken from him by Cadence.

"Files of the Changeling War, I told you three times already."

"Right, but why can't we just do what we did last time and go to Canterlot and do our love thing?"

"You want us to leave the Crystal Empire alone for a day to go deal with the Changelings? We're suppose to protect it remember?"

"But with Sombra reformed we don't have to worry so much, we can just leave him in charge for a day, it's not like he doesn't know how to run things." Shining argued with a carefree smile. This comment, however, rubbed Twilight the wrong way.

"Shining! For one, Sombra isn't reformed yet, and two, how could you even think about leaving the ex tyrant of the Crystal Empire in charge of The Crystal Empire?!"

Twilight's sudden outburst was met with a chuckle from her big brother as he pulled out a file for her to read before going off and looking for more stuff on the Changeling War. Cadence and Agatha both come to her with a reassured smile.

"I think you might be judging him a little too harshly." Agatha said. "Sure he was a Tyrant for little over a year before Princess Celestia and Princess Luna intervened, but before then, Sombra was a great and humble ruler."

"That's a little hard to believe..."

"Just read the file Shining gave you." Cadence reassured. "I too thought it was farfetched until I read of all the things he accomplished."


"Here we are!" Pinkie shouted out as she and Sombra reached their location. "Welcome to Sweet Apple Acres!"

"Your friend Applejack's home, correct?"

"How'd you know that?"

"It was part of the 'I might be an Apple poem'." Sombra responded as he walked up to the farm house along with his friend.

"You sure memorize things fast."

"I good king must have his wits on him, and his mind open if he is to rule well...but that's a thing of the past." The odd duo made it to the front door and were about to knock when a voice called out to them.

"Well look who we have here. The savior of Ponyville if mah eyes ain't playing tricks on me" The voice said with a southern accent.

"Hey cousin!" Pinkie said as she ran up to her friend to hug her.

"Hiya Pinkie, what brings you and your friend here at such a late hour?"

"Sombrie here says he needs a drink. *of the alcohol kind*." Pinkie said in a rather loud whisper. "I thought maybe we could get something from your stash since you said you had the hard hitting kind."

Applejack looked at Sombra from head to hoof as she leaned back to think. Sure she had lots of traditional apple cider stashed away for those hard days, and sure she hadn't had any so there was a lot of it left, but she wasn't too sure whether to share it or not.

"So Mr. Sombra, ya think ya can handle mah stash of cider?"

"No offence to you, but I am pretty sure your alcohol isn't anything compared to the Crystal Empire's hard liquor."

"You wanna test that theory Sugarcube?"

A smirk spread across Sombra's face as he stepped close. He was known to have a few drinks when he hit some lows in his life, and boy has he hit some pretty low lows. With Pinkie just a foot to the side, Applejack and Sombra stared at each other confident in their alcohol tolerance.


13. His Past Self

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Sombra staggered to walk as his wounds bled out. His mane trickling down his face as he did his best to navigate the destroyed terrain, he let out grunts of pain with each step. The path seem to drag on forever as he slowly walked up to a group of crystal ponies on the edge of the empire. Every pony was speechless and still as the bloodied stallion approached. The crystal guards pointed spears at him as he came close, causing him to stop only inches away from the piercing blade.

"Code 1-F" Sombra barely managed to say as he soon collapsed and a loud thud was heard. The silence lasted no longer as Crystal ponies rejoiced and some medic came to carry him off. Mothers cried and soldiers ran to position themselves for the next attack. Though every single pony in Sombra's squad was killed, this was The Crystal Empire's first ever victory over the Changelings. The foreigner has proven that they can still win this war, and as Celestia as their witness, they swore they would now that hope had been restored.


Twilight lifted her gaze from the file she had been given. With a quick glance from Cadence, she stood and made her way over to her, placing the file on the table.

"Read anything interesting?"

"Just something about Sombra coming back from some sort of battle."

"It wasn't any old battle my dear." Agatha said as she pushed a cart of many other files and journals. "It was the very first battle we had won against the Changelings."

"Yeah, I read that too. What was that about 'Code 1-F'?"

"Since changelings can take on many forms and disguise themselves as any pony, all our military spoke in code. The soldiers were interviewed on a daily basis to see if there were any changelings, and on the occasion there were, the military would recode everything."

"So what did 1-F mean?"

"At that point?" Agatha asked as she placed a hoof to her chin to think. After a long pause her face lit up in a smile. "Oh yes, it meant 'the objective has been cleared, prepare for the next objective."

"So was this the turning point for the Changeling War?" Cadence asked.

"Oh no, but it was a turning point for our empire. You see, after thirty-five years of war without a single victory, we had already given up any hope of winning, but with Sombra, that hope was renewed. This was the first real moment his actions had affected our Empire."

"I see..." Twilight said as she glanced down at the stack of files and journals the crystal pony had just set on the table. "And these are?"

"All the other times Sombra had helped us live on as a nation."

She couldn't believe it. The stack was huge! By the looks of it, it wasn't even the whole things. Agatha smiled as she began to push the cart back to get more literature, leaving Twilight in awe. Shining, having come back from getting a peculiar journal, laughed at his little sister.

"Oh Twily, you have the same look as Cadence when I told her."

"Wait what?" Twilight asked rather surprised, having been jerked back to reality, she looked at her sister-in-law for affirmation.

"Yes indeed, for some odd reason your strange brother decided to look into Sombra, with Agatha's help, he found out everything Celestia knows about Sombra." Cadence said as she turned the page she was reading. "Shining became very interested in him after his little scout trip with Luna."

"Oh right...I still haven't told you..." Shining said with a nervous look. Scratching the back of his head, he avoided the glare from his wife.

"Honey....what haven't you told me?"

"D-don't look at me like that! Celestia told me to keep it a secret!"

"Darling...what haven't you told me?"

Placed into a mental corner, Shining cleared his throat as he tried to regain his composure. "A month ago a scout had brought back news of a shadow like creature being seen lurking around the blizzard mountains. You know, the peaks that are on a constant storm? Anyway, I immediately sent a message to Celestia and she told me to keep it a secret until it was confirmed. We didn't want the Empire freaking out over Sombra returning if that wasn't the case."


"So are you sure about this?" Shining asked as he ventured out of their tent. The blizzard was as hard on their backs as it was on the mountain side without any sign of it calming down.

"Of course, We vow on Our Princesshood." Luna replied as she too exited. She pointed a hoof at the 'night' sky. "We have not set in the night time in this part of Equestria, these shadows come from elsewhere and We dread to believe Sombra has returned."

"So what should we do? Want me to go get Cadence for back up?"

"No, neither Celestia nor Cadence can be seen action out of schedule. If even a spark of fear is ignited among our citizens, our foe shall increase in strength ten fold."

"Yeah, you're right. So what is our plan?"

"We will do as We did in olden times. At times of war We would enter our opponent's dreams and find a weakness from within their subconscious."

"Okay, so what should my squad and I do?"

"Thou and thou alone must to fight King Sombra head on. Sending in a group would only add to his power. Thine rather...carefree nature, leaves thou as an exception for his ability to drain power from the fear of ponies."

"I'll take that as a compliment." Shining interrupted.

"Thine task shall be to push him back, leave him in need of rest.. That is when We shall enter his dream and find his weakness."


"I had never seen Luna so... intimidating before." Shinning told Twilight and Cadence who were eagerly listening to his story.

"Why didn't Auntie fight along with you?"

"If Sombra knew that Luna was with me, he probably wouldn't have gone to sleep even if we tired him out."

"So how did you tire him out?" Twilight asked, almost skeptical at her brother's story.

"You should believe in you're big brother's ability to fight more." Shining joked. "Those years at the academy weren't for nothing you know."


Shinning armor slid back on the snow. A blast from Sombra had propelled him back a few feet. Their battle had lasted a good while already and both parties were getting tired. Another energy blast was launched by Sombra only to have it shielded by Shining's magic. A purple aura like shield appeared in front of him to block in coming fire and quickly vanishing for him to counter attack with a blast of his own. One of those attacks managed to hit Sombra, a loud grunt echoing through the mountains.

Sombra's irises were nonexistent on his eyes, completely over shadowed by the amount of dark magic escaping the sides of his eyes. The flames in full throttle, while his eyes were drenched in sickly green. Any pony could have been terrified of such a ghastly sight, but Shining seemed unfazed. The darker of the stallions began to gallop at the other. Shining prepared a shield to protect himself from the incoming attack, but to his surprise, Sombra simply disintegrated into smoke, circling around and vanishing into the dark sky. The remaining soldier panted from his battle before nodding at Luna who had been concealing herself nearby.

As she stepped forward, her eyes began to glow as she prepared to enter the dreamscape. "Thou hast performed very well." She managed to say before vanishing, leaving Shining to return to camp. The battle had taken place far from there to make sure Sombra would not get any power from the soldiers posted there, so it took a while for the wounded and tired stallion to reach their tent. It was to no pony's surprised to see that Luna had already made it back by the time Shining had returned. What was surprising, was to see her crying.

"What happened?!" Shining asked as he rushed over to her.

"Nothing...We simply saw Sombra for who he truly is..." Luna said before making her way out.

"What do you mean?" But there was no response. Confused, Shinning Armor followed her. She walked slowly as small sniffs were heard every so often, her tears slowing to a stop. Once she had reached the bottom of the mountain the Luna Goddess called out to Sombra.

"King Sombra, We wish to speak to you!"

"What are you doing?! We aren't ready to fight him!" Shinning cried out as a gust of smokey black wind appeared before them, and a very angry stallion manifested in front of everyone. Sombra's eyes were still filled with dark matter, only adding to his frightening appearance.

Luna slowly made her way to him, but was met with aggression as bolts of dark energy were sent her way. Shining quickly jumped into action, using his magic to create shields to block the attacks.

"Retreat Princess, we'll try a different tactic." To his surprise, Luna simply placed a hoof to his shoulder, telling him to stand down. Hesitantly, he did and Luna continued her path to Sombra.

"Please stop this King Sombra, Diane would not want this!" Luna screamed out. A statement that made Sombra open his eyes in shock, followed by screams of agony as he raised his hooves to his head. A struggle with himself began as the darkness around him began to circulate him in a very aggressive manner. "Believe Us, We know what it is to be controlled by a dark force, don't give in to its influence!" Luna shouted at Sombra as she raised a hoof to shield her eyes from the harsh out-lash of the wind Sombra was creating.

"You don't understand!" Sombra screamed back, finally able to speak. "I am the darkness, I needed the darkness!"

"No Sombra! What Thou needed was Diane! Please pull away from the darkness keeping thou in the land of regret! Thou cannot change what hast happened, nor can this dark power thou harbors within thee!"

Luna's plea only intensified the struggle Sombra was facing and in one last outburst, the dark power circulating him clashed against the mountain side, almost leveling the land mark. As Shinning and his soldiers stared in awe, Luna flew over to find Sombra under some rubble, beaten and tired, but still breathing.

"Leave me be..." He muttered as Luna began to dig him out.

"We too once wished for death, but a kind soul brought Us from the dark depths of Our own mind..." She responded.


"After that, Sombra was brought to Canterlot where he and Celestia held a very long conversation before finally having him sent to Ponyville for a reformation."

Twilight was shocked at the events her brother was telling. "What exactly did Luna see in Sombra's dream?" She asked.

"Dunno, I never asked." Shinning responded.

"So wait, you mean to tell me Sombra was only miles from the Crystal Empire?...and I didn't know?!" Cadence shouted out. Shining's ears flopped down as she ran up to him in a very aggressive manner.


"What if he attacked?!" Cadence shouted yet again. The married couple seemed to have began one of those unprovoked arguments and were soon nothing more than background noise for Twilight as she was left to her thoughts. As luck would have it, Agatha had just returned with more files.

"Say, you said your sister was named Diane, any chance it's the same Diane Luna was talking about?"

"Why yes." Agatha said as she placed the files on the table. "She and Sombra were very close, so by default, so were he and I."

"What happened exactly? The Sombra we know doesn't seem like the one I am reading about. What caused such a turn for the worse?"

The smile on the crystal pony began to fade as she thought about it. "The War was hard on all of us...but I think it was the hardest on Sombra. That is all I am going to say, I don't think it is my place to tell you. Ask Sombra, if he wants to tell you, he will."


Sombra's reflection on the mug of cider held a smirk as he and Applejack stared off as they sat on opposite sides of the table in her home. Each pony with a mug of cider in their hoof, they waited until the right moment to chug the entirety of the cider down as quickly as possible.

"Ah must say, ya ain't too shabby."

"I too wasn't expecting you to last so long."

Sombra and Applejack said to one another as they waited for Pinkie to refill their mugs. They had already gone through more than half of Applejack's stash of cider, but it was completely worth it in her opinion. It had been ages since she last met a pony who could last as long as her at drinking other than her brother.

"Wow, you two sure are going at it." Pinkie said with a smile. She had seen Applejack have a drinking contest before, but never one where her opponent lasted more than half an hour. This was certainly a once in a life time moment.



Again they both gulped down their cider as the alcohol began to burn at their throats again. As soon as they both finished they sighed in unison while slamming their mugs down on the table. Both of them were beginning to feel the effects of the cider as their cheeks began to burn up looking like a strange blush and their visions slightly blurry.

"Woohoo! Here's another round!" Pinkie shouted as she poured them more to drink.

This was it, both contestants knew it. If they didn't manage to drink the entire mug in one session they would surely lose since losing one's momentum in a drinking contest meant losing the match. Both of them held onto their mugs as they stared into each other's eyes. Their glares burning at one another and if synced to perfection, both raised their mugs to begin chugging down the cider. Sombra closed his eyes as he felt the burn of the alcohol as it went down his system. Gulps were the only noise in the room as both became teary eyed. Again, in unison, they both slammed down their mugs as they panted out. Pinkie gasped as the glanced at the mugs, both contestants not losing their eye contact.

"Nice job..." Sombra said weakly.

"You too Sugarcube."

Both of them complimented one another before looking down to see the winner, and while both had left some of their cider in their mug, Applejack had only left about a fifth of the mug, Sombra a whole lot more. There was no need to go again, the winner was Applejack. Both of them leaned back as they finally were able to rest from their match, giving their throats a rest from the toxic goodness of alcohol.

"Wowie, how did you both manage to go for so long?"

"Years of practice." They both responded.

"You guys have to stop that, it's getting kinda creepy now..."

"Stop what?" Both of them asked.


All three bursted into laughter as the atmosphere began to soften.

"Ah can't believe I just beat the 'great and powerful unicorn' in a drinkin' game."

"Wrong unicorn AJ!"

"Same difference." Sombra said as he recalled the stories he read on the newspapers. "We both brought an Ursa the next day!"

Again their laughter echoed out, but along with that came a belch on the stallions part. He cleared his throat as he tidied himself up.

"My apologies, that's no way to act around mares." He said rather embarrassed. Applejack's only response was to belch out louder than he did. Laughter ensued once more, the effect of the alcohol has long kicked in and both Applejack and Sombra were laughing extremely loud and in an extreme exaggeration. Both of them fell to the floor as their eyes teared up from laughing too much.

"Pinkamena!" Sombra said as he suddenly stood up. "You, have probably been the best thing to happen to me since I got here." Having been the only one sober at the moment, Pinkie was shocked by his sudden statement and blushed on the spot. "Oh have I mentioned how cute you look when you're blushing?"

"Ain't she always pink anyway?" Applejack said as she stood up as well.

"I guess she is...Then I guess that means she's always cute."

"Ah agree, she is cute."

"Y-You guys! Stop that! Go home, you're both drunk!"

"Drunk? Who do ya think you're talkin' to? I'm your sister Applejack!"

"I thought she was your fifth cousin twice removed..."

"Details, details..." Again, some laughter.

"Any way...There is some truth to what Pinkamena says." Sombra said as he reach a certain level of vividness. "I will probably regret this moment tomorrow morning, so it's best I get to sleep as soon as I can."

"Yeah, me too, Ah have a long day ahead of me." Applejack agreed. All three ponies helped clean up and were soon on their way out. A quick goodbye to the orange mare, the other two were now on their way to their own home, in a strange kind of silence. Wobbly from the alcohol, Sombra swayed from side to side as he walked, occasionally brushing his shoulder against Pinkie who would blush slightly each time. She knew he was just drunk, so she didn't say anything, but something kept picking at her.

"So...Did you really mean it?"

"Mean what?" Sombra asked half there half in Lala land.

"About me...being the best thing to happen to you."

"Surprisingly, yes. I despised that you weren't afraid of me, but looking back, you were the only pony to treat me as just a another stallion, not one with a stigma of darkness on my head. It's kinda nice to have you as a friend." Sombra responded as he shifted his gaze at her. They locked eyes for a moment as Pinkie's blush grew in size. Unknown to Pinkie, Sombra was no longer walking oddly, instead, he was up right and holding his head high.

"So umm..." Pinkie began, but she didn't know what to follow it up with. She wanted to continue that conversation, about anything really, but did not know how. "What happens now?" She finally managed to say.

"Now, you go inside and sleep tight." Sombra replied as he pointed at the front door of Sugarcube corner.

"We're here already?"

"You sound disappointed."

"Oh no, not really." An awkward silence befell them as Pinkie was unsure of what to do.

"Aren't you going in?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm just afraid of making noise and waking the foals."

Sombra glanced up at her window which had remained open. He reached his hoof out at her and for a moment, she hesitated to take a hold of it. Ever so gently, he pulled her close, their bodies brushing up against each other. Then, Sombra's eyes erupted with purple flames, something that didn't seem to bother Pinkie in the slightest as she started into his crimson irises. The ground beneath them shook as a black crystal pillar extended upward, soon reaching the height of the window. Slowly Pinkie stepped off the pillar and into her room.

"Have a good night Pinkamena." He said before retracting the pillar and getting back to ground level. Pinkie managed to wave goodbye as the stallion walked off.

14. A Cursed Tome

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If there is one upside to being an incarnate of darkness, it is the quick regeneration of cells in the body. Sombra had an quick healing factor in his system which seemed to have been established some time early in his mastery of the dark arts. It wasn't perfect, but definitely there. As such, Sombra can heal from most injuries as long as he had enough dark energy at his disposal. It was because of this that he was able to survive the rather painful blast during the events of his return when Twilight and her friends aided in the retrieval of the crystal heart.

That being said, the healing factor in his body had taken affect and was now 'cleansing' his system from the alcohol he had ingested only moments prior. Good thing about this: no headaches and he can't drink himself to death. Bad things: he can't get drunk for very long, and when he does, it is only after an enormous amounts of alcohol.

Once more Sombra found himself sighing as he walked down the dark streets of Ponyville. The last few hours, though blurred, were still fresh in his memory and he soon began to regret some f the things he said. Not that they weren't true, but rather because now he couldn't deny them without seeming like a liar. He sighed again as he opened the front door to the library, but as he did his nostrils were filled with the same dreadful scent from before.

"It's about time you got home!" Spike said as he jumped out. By the looks of it he had been doing some late night work at a desk lit by a single candle as he waited for him to return.

"My apologies." Sombra responded as he walked in, the scent lingering and even intensifying still.

"Yeah yeah, I was beginning to think you ran away, lucky I didn't call Twilight to get here and look for you."

"Such a pity." Sombra said as he now came to recognize the familiar horrid smell. Slowly, he walked over to the armor and cape that he had neatly folded at the very beginning of the morning when Rarity had given him his new outfit. He undress and began to put it back on.

"Why are you putting your old outfit back on?"

"I feel more comfortable in it, say, do you still want to know what it was I did during the Changeling War?"

"Of course! We need that information to combat the changelings attacking ponies in Canterlot!"

Taking his time, Sombra began to tell a story as his dressed himself in his old king's attire. "I was not welcomed as a citizen when I first arrived at the Crystal Empire, in fact, I was looked at as an enemy by most ponies because I could have been a changeling spy trying to infiltrate the empire."

"I see, so how'd you gain their trust and end up becoming king?"

"Uh uh uh, you're getting ahead of yourself Spike."


"I can help! You've got to believe me!" Sombra shouted at the council of crystal ponies. He was currently interrupting a private meeting where they discussed the plans for their fight against the changelings.

"Silence! First you endanger the secrets of the council then you propose impossible ideas. Have you gone mad?!"

"I'm a unicorn, I can use magic, I can find a spell that can allow me help fight them off, but I need access to your royal library, I am sure you have something that can help me help you."

"Our royal library?!" A crystal mare form the council shouted. "You really have gone mad. You are barely in our good graces so we allowed you to stay, but what makes you think we'll allow a foreigner to read our ancient documents?! Perhaps you are a spy after all. Guards, take him away!"

"No! You've got to believe me!"

Sombra was cast out and pushed into streets where he landed rather ungracefully at the hooves of a crystal mare.

"Told you not to go in there." She said before helping him up.

"I had to try Diane, they are fighting a losing war. I don't want the empire to fall, I want to play my part and help. I am sure that with the right spell I can turn this around."

Diane sighed as she looked at the stallion up and down. He was certainly roughed up, but that didn't seem to bother him at all. He always did have quite the head strong personality, one of his best qualities, but also one of the qualities that got him into trouble the most...and often, her too.

"So you need access to the royal library? Are you sure you can find what you're looking for in there?"

"Given a few hours, yes." Sombra said as he noticed a rather sly smile upon his friend's face. "Why?..."

"I'll give you one hour, take it or leave it."


"So she sneaked you into the library?" Spike asked, the candle that was currently the only thing lighting the room flickers as the open window sent a small gust of wind in.

"She did."

"So did you find the spell you were looking for?"

"I didn't, unfortunately."


A soft grunt was heard as Diane helped hold Sombra up as he reached into a castle window. Once inside, Sombra used his magic to levitate her in. They waited behind the spacious curtains until the guard made his rounds. Once he passed, they moved quickly. Diane was quick to work her way around the castle. Being a librarian who often helped her sister in the royal library, she was all too familiar with the layout and rounds the guards took.

It did not take long until the reached the locked doors of the library. As agile as she was, Diane still had a hard time trying to get the lock open. The key was under high protection and in constant watch, so she had very little time to duplicate one, it was up to the good old picks to help unlock the door. Finally, after some the conflict with the small piece of iron, the lock opened and they quickly went into the library. Sombra was left in awe as he glanced around the enormous amounts of books shelved stories high.

Diane knocked on his skull a few times to bring him back to reality. "Hello? Just an hour remember? The old tomes are kept in the top shelf three hallways to the right. I'm guess you can find something there."

"Right, I'll get right on it."

"Good, I'll stay here and watch for trouble."

Sombra quickly made his way to his destination. It wasn't until he saw the huge shelf that he thoughts that perhaps he bit off more than he could chew, but this wasn't the time for second thoughts. It was now or never, and the latter was a rather scary thought. He quickly got to reading every tome he could get his hooves on. Wile he found everything fascinating, he had to fight the urge to read on when he knew that it did not contain the answers he needed. Thirty minutes past and soon he was beginning to lose hope that he would find something that could help him. Until a peculiar tome caught his eye.

He used his magic to levitate the odd book. The writing was in the old forgotten language that Diane had taught him. The same language that his name came from. He opened it, and though confused by what some of the words meant, he found it rather intriguing. It spoke a magic so powerful that it could bring out the strength from witin, but at the cost of one's physical form. It was a sort of binding contract that would grant one the ability to drain energy from those around him, making the pony stronger with each individual that opposed him.

His reading was disrupted by the sound of Diane's voice. "I am so so sorry sir..." Sombra peeked out and looked over to see a guard approaching Diane.

"Drat, we were found out." Sombra whispered to himself as he brought the tome close to him.

"Oh I know you're sorry alright, but not as sorry asyou'll be when I feast upon you." The guard laughed as he approached her. With a gasp, she soon realized what was going on.

"Don't tell're a changeling?!"

"Bingo." The guard changed shape into it's insectoid form, quickly pouncing onto Diane. In a quick reaction, Sombra ran out, charging at it as he shot out small bolts of energy. Though they hit the changeling, it was mostly unfazed by the impact. It reacted with a green bolt of his own, one strong enough to propel Sombra all the way back onto a bookcase, causing it to fall over.

"Oh don't you worry, you're next." The changeling said as he began to creep close to Diane again who seemed helpless, her fear completely freezing her in place. Sombra heard her shout out in pain as her life was beginning to be drained out of her, his vision blurry form the impact, he looked around to find the tome from before.

"Heh...It's now or never..." Sombra whispered to himself as he used what magic he still possessed to open the tome and chant out the words of the contract, binding his body and mind to the forces he was yet to understand, but right now, he didn't care. He just wanted to have the strength to save Diane.

The changeling paused in his feeding as a bright green and purple light began to flood his vision. Sombra screamed out as he felt his body be torn apart and recreated with the dark matter materializing around him. Not wanting to stay around, the bug like creature began to retreat, but was quickly denied that luxury as Sombra raised his hoof, creating a wall of black crystal to block the door way. Finally, the contract had been sealed and Sombra now stood tall as purple flames burned from his eyes, his red irises complimented by the sickly green glow of his eyes.


"So that's how you got your power...So used that to turn the War around and beat the changelings?" Spike asked as he saw Sombra finish putting on his outfit, ending with the once proud crown he wore in the past.

"Not quite, sure the tome gave me the strength to defeat the changelings, but all the power in the world means nothing if you can't hit your target." Sombra said as he walked closer to the dragon, the wind finally blew hard enough to blow out the candle. The only lighting was that of the moon through the window that softly illuminated Sombra's face.

"Oh what did you do to win?"

"I threw myself into the nest, I fought them for days on end until I managed to do it."

"Do what? Beat them all?!"

"No...engrave their smell into my memory. I was sent on the task to infiltrate their base with a squad to find a way to expose them. Once done, Code 1-F would be successful." Sombra said before firing a dark energy bolt at the small dragon. The blast sent the small reptile flying back and breaking down a wall as smoke and debris flew everywhere. "All creatures have a scent to them, and those that live in a hive tend to share a scent. Changelings have a rather dreadful scent to them, you were easy to find once you isolated yourself to me."

From the smoke that now covered a small portion of the library, a tall changeling emerged. "I see, so that's how you did it. You were literally able to sniff us out. It's a pity though, I planned to stay hidden for much longer than this. I'm surprised you managed to find me out so fast, but I suppose I should expect nothing less than Sombra, the king of the Crystal Empire."

"Ex King, and by the looks of it, you're Chrysalis, the Changeling Queen that attacked Canterlot a few months back. Boy does Sparkle know how to get herself involved with the worst of ponies." Sombra joked as he stared off to opponent.

"Don't bluff, I know that you've been weak lately, you've no dark magic to drain from these ponies. You've made the mistake to get on their good side and now no pony fears you, you must have wasted a great deal of energy with that one blast alone."

"That maybe so, so what do you intend to do Chrysalis?"

"What any good wife should do, take revenge for the death of their husband!" She said as she flew forward. Sombra mimicked her, but before they clashed, he transformed into a smoke cloud, passing right through her and flying out of the now huge gaping hole in the wall.

Chrysalis was right, he did not have the energy to fight, he needed to escape and get some power, any little bit would help, and he knew exactly where to go. Sombra's smoke changed course as he gambled on the thought of whether a pony would be home right now...a rather easily startled mare that could perhaps change the tide of the fight.

15. Fight For Your Loved Ones

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Exhausted, Sombra quickly landed his smoke form on the found not too far away from Fluttershy's cottage. Sweat began to drip from his forehead as he made his way to her front door. He was about to knock when a small whiff of the Changeling scent began to come to him. He didn't have the time or luxury to be a gentle colt. Using his magic, he unlocked the door from the inside and he made his way in.

Not wasting time, we walked around looking for the mare's bedroom. The cottage was relatively small, so that took little time, which was good as the changeling scent was getting stronger.As he reached for the door, a sudden sense of intrusiveness be fell him. Just bursting into a mares bedroom was definitely not something he was used to doing, and even earlier with Pinkie he stood outside her window until she had asked him to come in. his was a rather awkward situation he was in. But as his hesitation grew, so did the strength of the scent.

"To Tartarus with it..." Sombra said as he slammed the door open. "Fluttershy?! You in here?"

In a loud, rather cute sounding scream, Fluttershy, who had been peacefully asleep jolt up as she raised her blankets over her face in reflex. Instantly the stallion felt horrible about what he had done, but time was running out.

"My apologies, but there is something I require of you."

"S-Sombra?..." Fluttershy asked as she peeked over the cover. As they made eye contact, a bright blush spread across Fluttershy's face. "Something you need Oh no! I-I-I-I-I'm not ready for that."

"What?" Sombra asked as he tried to process her argument. "No! Why does every mare tonight think that?!"

"O-Oh..." She said as she tried to calm her heart that felt like it was ready to explode.

"I need you to come with me." Sombra said, regaining his composure and looking out of her window.

"Where to?" She said as she got out of bed, hesitant to get close to him.

"Evidently...not very far."

"King Sombra! Come out and play, or have you degraded to running and hiding?" Chrysalis taunted from outside the cottage.

"Is that Chrysalis?"


"What is she doing here?..." Fluttershy asked as she began to tremble from the Changeling's sudden appearance.

"Looking for revenge on behalf of her husband." Sombra responded as his red irises sparked, his eyes igniting from what could be called a breath of fresh air for him. He was right in coming here, the mare as beginning to provide the energy he needed. As he glanced down at her, he still could not comprehend how this was happening. She was clearly afraid of Chrysalis, not him. Could it be that he can drain fear from anyone no matter who or what they are afraid of?


"Lookie what I found!" Shinning shouted joyfully as he brought out a large portrait of Sombra. It was in rather good condition, but considering the Crystal Empire was at a stand still for a thousand years, perhaps it didn't mean too much.

The alicorns turned to the stallion who brought in the unusually large painting. Their reactions were mixed as they saw just a...docile portrait of the old king.

"Where did you find that?" Twilight asked as she looked it over.

"Behind some shelves, it's almost like it was hidden away."

"That's because it was." Agatha interrupted as she walked over to the old painting. "Goodness, I had forgot I put it back there. He is rather dashing isn't he?"

Ignoring the question, Twilight stepped in to ask a question of her own. "Why did you hide it? Did you plan on selling it or something?"

"No, Sombra had gone in a strange frenzy one night, ripping apart portraits of his out of some sort of nightmare rage."

"Is that right?" Cadence said as she too come close to inspect it. "Look, Sombra's horn is spiral, like ours. Howcome its red and spiky now?"

"Oh, that's because this was painted early in his years as a soldier. He had not been out to the field and had not used his magic."

"His horn mutated with the use of his magic?" Twilight asked alarmed as she reached up to grab her own horn. Had she known dark magic had that effect, she probably wouldn't have had her little experiment the previous day.

"No, dark magic doesn't mutate your horn silly." Agatha said with a smile. "When I asked Sombra about it he said it was a scar."

"A scar? How exactly?"

"Well, let me ask you something. When you fire spells from your horn rapidly, doesn't it even start to burn or heat up?"

Twilight thought back at all the times she had indeed gone over her limit and felt her horn burn. "Yes, a few times."

"Well as Sombra once told me, unicorns are suppose to stop once the burning begins or it can have bad results, but in the battle field one doesn't have the luxury to give their horn a break. So after many battles, his horn was stained red, and since he continued to fire spells from his horn when hot, it was bent backwards into what you see today. I must say though, it added to his scare factor when fighting the changelings, so it was more of a benefit in the long run for him."

Agatha finished her small lesson and quickly got back to work, this time it was putting up all the files and books the royalty had finished going though. As the crystal pony left, Twilight glanced over at her older brother who was still admiring the portrait and Cadence who was heading back to the table.

"Sombra has been through a lot huh?" She quietly admitted as Cadence passed her.

"It seems so, and by the stack of files and books, we haven't seen the half of it. I suppose that all in all, he could have turned out a whole lot worse don't you think?"

"Yeah. This mare, Diane. I wonder if it's just a coincidence that she has the same name as Pinkie's full name, and that she's the one in charge of reforming him."

"Dunno, but what I do know, is that he is one brave stallion." Cadence said as she read over the battles he led alone. Often outnumbered in the hundreds and still coming out victorious, though severely injured in the process.


With Fluttershy upon his back, Sombra galloped out of the window as the cottage was bombarded by Crysalis's magic bolts. A scream was heard as the mare witness the destruction of her home, her critters running out to get to safety. Landing a little lopsided, Sombra continues to run out into the forest as more screams are heard, Fluttershy scared out of her mind, which was exactly what Sombra wanted. His eyes erupted with purple flames as he continued to drain his magic from her.

"I could get used to this." He said to himself as he continued to exploit this loophole in his magic.

"I could not!" Fluttershy said as she tightly wrapped her arms around his neck to try to keep from falling off.

As expected, Chrysalis was on the chase, her ability to both fly and attack with magic was a big disadvantage, but having fought changelings almost on a regular basis, this was something Sombra knew how to deal with. Keeping as out of sight as he could, he continued to gallop through the forest, jumping over obstacles as necessary, sometimes even when not needed if only to scare Fluttershy and increase his magic. He couldn't do much more than that. He was not strong enough to engage the queen, all he needed was to buy some time.

As the fight crept further and further away, Angel Bunny crawled out from the rubble of the cottage. Already in a bad mood from being woken up, he was even more angry from having his home collapse on him. He stumped around a bit before digging through the debris and finding the note Fluttershy had given him. He was to deliver it to Pinkie as soon as he could, and had it been any other day, he would have ignored the request, but right now, he was angry. And an angry Angel Bunny is not a bunny to mess with. That bug was going to get her's, and she was going to get it soon.

"Get back here and fight!" Chrysalis shouted as she searched for the odd duo from the sky, hiding in the shade of the trees was the only reason they hadn't been blown to pieces. "Well if you won't come out of hiding, I'll just leave nothing for you to hide behind!" She shouted as she charged up a large energy bolt to destroy the trees. As she paused to power her attack, Sombra quickly propelled himself up with a crystal pillar, physically attacking her before she could launch her blast. Knocking her off balance, Sombra twisted in mid air to land on a newly created pillar to stand meters in the air, facing off against Chrysalis.

"Sorry, but Fluttershy says the forest is important for the animals. I can't have you destroying it."

"Ha, you make jokes as you stare into your own death."

"Am I?" He asked as he powered a blast of his own, a move mimicked by the changeling and as the beams of energy clashed, Fluttershy curled up near the base of a tree, left behind for safe keeping.


"Say Agatha?" Twilight asked as she lifted her gaze from the file she was reading. "What's this about the confirmed death of the leader of the Changelings?"

"Oh that? That was the final nail on the coffin for the Changeling War. Sombra killed their leader and the changelings had no choice but to retreat into the abyss of the blizzard lands, never to come back to the Empire since."

"That can't be right." Cadence said as she stood up to read Twilight's file. "Their leader interrupted our wedding a few months back, maybe Sombra didn't kill her after all."

"I believe you're talking about Queen Chrysalis, correct?"


"The Changeling Sombra killed to end the war was the Changeling King, Dycus."

Suddenly interested in the topic, Shining jumped in to read the file as well, the married couple basically crushing Twilight as they read. After a moment of being pushed down, the younger alicorn teleported away, leaving Cadence and Shinning to fall.

"So the Changelings had a king?" Twilight asked as she dusted her shoulder off. "Don't you think Chrysalis would want revenge on the empire? Do you think perhaps that is why they are attacking again?"

"I doubt it Twily." Shinning said as she helped his wife get up. The empire has been back for a while now, they would have attacked us long ago if revenge was their motive. Not to mention that it doesn't make sense to attack ponies in Canterlot to get back at us all the way out here."

"Yeah, there isn't anything that might have provoked them to attack now of all times." Cadence added.

"No...nothing except..." Twilight said as she began to ponder on the matter and how she had an itching suspicion it all correlated some how. "Shinning quick! Did any pony know of Sombra's return?"

"No, I told you, Celestia wanted it to remain on low key."

"Except that it wasn't kept in low key for very long! The very next day that Sombra came to Ponyville he ended up rescuing the town from an Ursa Major, it was big news all over Equestria!"

"What are you getting at, that the changelings found out about Sombra and wanted to take revenge on him specifically?"

"Doesn't it make sense? He was the one that killed their king, and they only attacked when he suddenly made the news about his big return."

"Okay." Shinning said as he tried to understand Twilight's point of view. "So why did they attack Canterlot instead of Ponyille where he is staying?"

"Because they knew that we didn't know anything about them, they knew that we'd want to get help from the Crystal Empire who had a history with changelings, and they knew they'd send me since Canterlot was the changeling hotspot so neither Luna nor Celestia could go... leaving Ponyville unprotected!" Twilight said as she began to realize their plan. "I've got to go!" She shouted as she ran off, heading straight to the train station while praying that she was wrong. Unfortunately, she wasn't.


Sombra jumped off his crystal pillar to avoid a bolt of magic. Though he managed to escape getting damaged, the pillar broke apart, small pieces began to fall down towards where Fluttershy was hiding. In a quick attempt to save her, he launched a bolt of dark energy at the crystals, dissipating them while simultaneously erecting another crystal pillar for him to land on.

"I must say, you are quite the agile fighter." Chrysalis said, causing them to pause their combat.

"I didn't win the war with just standing around."

"That is correct, but you also didn't win the war by running in circles. It is obvious that you are back at some percentage of power, how'd you do it? Does it have to do with the mare you kidnapped? Did you scare her so badly that she gave you the power you needed?"

"Please, I am a gentlecolt, I would never lay a hoof on a mare like that, unlike some other king i know of!" Sombra shouted as he launched himself forward from the pillar. Taking the bait, Chrysalis sennt a blast of energy towards him, but Sombra quickly changes form into a smoke cloud to pass right through her attack. The black tar like air continued forward until passing the changeling as well; once behind her, Sombra changed back and sent a blast of his own her way.

The attack made contact, sending her spiraling down. Though it seemed like a good move at first, he had not accounted that Chrysalis was right over Fluttershy.

"Horse apples..." He said before pulling up a pillar and then jumping down to where the pegasus was.

Chrysalis hit the ground hard, but it wasn't enough to keep her off her hooves for long. As she stood, what laid before her was a very terrified Fluttershy. "So that's where you went off to."

Without allowing for her to get much closer, Sombra landed between the two as the ground beneath him cracked. "That's far enough." Having the changeling queen so close only frightened Fluttershy further causing Sombra's flames to combust further.

"So she's your power source? That explains a lot." Chrysalis said as she flew up and sent an energy bolt from her rigged horn at Fluttershy. In response, Sombra brought up a crystal wall to shield her, but he knew that they were in a very bad situation.


Pinkie was sound asleep in her fluffy bed. Her peaceful sleep only interrupted by small mumbles to herself every now and again. "Oh Sombrie, I can't eat any more cupcakes..."

Angel Bunny had just climbed in through her window and panted slightly as he tried to recover his energy.

"Noo~" Pinkie continued to dream. "I'm too full to go swimming, I'll get a tummy ache silly!"

As he heard her mumbles an annoyed expression spread across his face followed by thumping with his foot while his arms crossed. The sound did nothing to wake her up, but he wasn't going to wait around until she did. Angel quickly jumped onto her bed and ran up to her pillow where he nudged at her head. That, unfortunately, did not wake her either.

"Oh Sombrie!" She giggled in her sleep as she spoke. "I thought you said you didn't like hugs."

Angel become even more annoyed with the pink mare, and without second thinking his next action, he kicked the lamp next to the bed, knocking it over and breaking it. That sharp noise did wake Pinkie as she sat up straight in a small scream.

"Ah! Who's there?" She asked as she looked around her room, but the sound of thumping caught her attention. "Oh hi Angel, what are you doing here?" At once the rabbit gave her the note had been carrying around and she quickly read it to herself.

"'Look for Spike, send help. Sombra and Fluttershy.' Oh no! What happened?!" She asked Angel. The rabbit began to gesture the events that took place as he remembered them, and though it was a little exaggerated, Pinkie somehow managed to understand him. "But what was Sombra doing at Fluttershy's cottage?" To this Angel simply shrugged. Though she wanted to know, there wasn't any time. She quickly jumped out of bed and ran to the library.


Fluttershy flew up past the tree tops to escape the volley of attack Chrysalis was sending her way. Had Sombra not summon out crystal pillars to protect her, she would not have been unharmed. As the barrage come to a halt, Fluttershy looked down as she tried to make out what was going on. A sudden tumble of a tree only made her mind make the worst of assumptions. Her fears came true as Sombra launched himself from the broken tree slightly hurt from the impact. Once in the air he raised a pillar to stand on.

"Plan B, stay close to me and I'll keep you safe."

"O-Okay..but why don't I just go get help?"

"Because I need you." Sombra responded quickly. This made Fluttershy freeze on the spot.

"Need me?"

"Yes, it is thanks to you that I can fight right now. I know it might seem a little selfish of me, but I need you present so I may have the strength to combat her, at least until Pinkamena arrives with help."

"Okay, I'll do my best!" Fluttershy said as she looked over at the stallion that was basically telling her that he'd keep her safe against her attacker. It was as if was cut from a romance novel, but the romanticized scene soon disappeared as Chrysalis flew up at high speeds shooting bolts from her horn at them. Sombra reacted quickly, expanding the top of the pillar into a platform, the blasts of magic were easily blocked, but it also meant they lost sight of their opponent.

"Over here!" Chrysalis screamed as she emerged from behind them. Sombra's eyes widened as he saw the surprised attack directed at Fluttershy. The platform exploded from the impact of the attack. From the very top, a figure was sent flying downward.

Pinkie, who had just made it to the library to find a giant hole on the side heard a huge explosion in the distance. "Sombrie?" She asked out before taking a step towards where the sound came from.

A hard landing was an understatement for Sombra who had jumped between the attack and Fluttershy. He had grabbed a hold of her, pulling her with him down with him. The mare slowly opened her eyes to see she was in Sombra's arms, a stallion who seemed very badly hurt.

"Oh my goodness! Are you okay?!"

In reaction to her worry, Sombra's eyes erupted in flames, waking him up. "Y-Yes..." He managed to say as he slowly stood up. This was it...though it took far too long, he was finally back at one-hundred percent of his magic power. "In fact, I think I am doing great. Stay here." He said as his eyes turned sickly green as he began to access his full potential, hopefully his body could handle it.

Using a crystal pillar to throw himself up into the air, he raised more in strategic places so he could jump from one to another until he came back face to face to Chrysalis.

"I'm surprised you can still stand." She taunted as she looked over at his battered gear. His armor cracked in several place and his cape ripped, he did not look all that well.

"I am much more sturdy than you take me for." He said as he raised dozens more pillars around the area. An act that did not sit well with the changeling.

In an attempt to stop what he was planning, she rushed at him while firing bolts at him. Sombra raised a crystal wall in front of him, blocking her way, as she stopped to keep form crashing, Sombra had changed into his cloud of smoke to sneak around and reappeared behind her and blast her with a large blast of dark matter. A shout was heard from Chrysalis as she turned to face Sombra and in a counter attack, sent a bolt of energy of her own, but once again he shifted forms and her attack passed right through him. The black cloud maneuvered behind a crystal pillar as Chrysalis timed her attack for when he changed back, but it almost seemed like he had vanish.

Down below the tree tops Sombra changed back into his physical form. Having used the pillar as cover for him to retreat down without her notice, he quickly raised yet another pillar beneath him, propelling him up directly at Chrysalis, knocking her off balance and as she struggled in the air, he blasted her with his dark magic at point black range. The changeling queen slammed down into the ground, breaking the terrain and causing a huge hole.

Sombra used another blast to push himself back onto a pillar which he then lowered gently as he stepped close to Chrysalis to finished the fight. Coughing was heard as the dust began to clear at the center of the crater. But as he came close, he froze as he saw something from his past.

"Please...Sombra, don't hurt me." Diane pleaded from the center of the crater. Sombra knew it was a disguise. He knew Diane wasn't really in front of him, but he couldn't move. He commanded his limbs to move, to do anything at all, but it didn't listen to him.

"Sombra..." Diane said as she slowly made her way to him. He grit his teeth as he tried to force himself to react, but it was useless. Seeing Diane in front of him brought him to a state of disarray.

"Oh Sombra..." Diane said as her expression of pain became one of disturbed pleasure. "How lucky I am that you loved her so much." Chrysalis said as she shifted back into her true changeling form and hitting him with a blast of green energy that she had been charging up, but since Diane didn't have a horn, it did not show in her disguise.

Sombra was blow away by the blast. It was so strong that it leveled a large part of the forest with Sombra taking a beating with every tree he was blasted though. Fluttershy heard the loud sounds of destruction and quickly perked up. She hesitated slightly, but took flight in the direction it came from. Pinkie, who had already made her way into the forest heard the blast go off and she imminently became very worried as well.

"Well well well, looks like my husband was lacking in skill when he fought you. I must admit, you did put up a good fight, but you've grown soft. Seeing some pony from your past must have really done a number on you huh? The true tyrant of the Crystal Empire would not have fallen for such a rouse." Chrysalis shouted as she indulged herself in her assured victory over Sombra.

"He's not a tyrant anymore!" Pinkie cried out as she ran towards Sombra who remained unconscious.

"She's right! Sombra is kind and protects those that can't protect themselves!" Fluttershy joined in as she flew down next to Sombra as Pinkie reached his side. She shook him gently to try to wake him, but he didn't budge.

"How sentimental of you, but that is exactly why he is weak. That love and care drove him to his own demise!" Chrysalis said as she pointed her hoof at Sombra whom Pinkie was leaning up. As his body sat up, his crown broke in half as some blood began to drip down from his forehead. The changeling only laughed as she finally accomplished her revenge, her one thousand year task, she was in glee.

Sombra, began to come to, but only visually. He saw Pinkie and Fluttershy hold him as Chrysalis began to charge up another blast. The mare's words were muffled, as he tried to look around and find some clarity.

Don't give up just yet Sombra A voice in his head whispered.

W-Who are you? He tried to ask. A soft caring laugh from his past was all he managed to make out before his hearing began to come back.

"Please don't die!" Pinkie shouted as her tears began to trickle down on him. Fluttershy was no better off as she sat on the opposite side of Pinkie grasping his hoof.

"Please, I don't want to lose you!"

They are afraid that you're going to die Sombra. Are you really going to make them go through what you went through? The voice asked. They care about you, don't let them down Sombra.

"No..." Sombra managed to say in what seemed like a whisper. Chrysalis was just about done charging her final attack.

"Not yet..." Sombra said, now much louder, loud enough for the mare to hear him. They both stopped their crying as Sombra struggled to his hooves. His eyes erupted in large bursts of purple flames as his irises began to fade into the green of his eyes. Pinkie and Fluttershy's fear of his imminent death began to power him past his physical limit. Chrysalis fired her attack just as Sombra managed to stand up. "I won't die just yet!"

Another large cloud of smoke erupted from the ground as the attack made contact. Chrysalis laughed as she looked at what seemed like her absolute victory. But her laughed died down as she saw what seemed like red crystal. The strange wall disintegrated revealing the trio virtually unscathed.

"What? How is that possible!?" The changeling shouted out as she sent out a barrage of bolts at them. Sombra raised more red crystals to block, but once they retracted into the ground, he was gone, leaving behind Pinkie and Fluttershy who held a smile on their face at seeing Sombra be alright. "Where did he go?!"

"Over here." Sombra said as he appeared behind her. He had caught a ride with his pillars underground and bursted out from the rock and dirt below. As he raised red crystal spears to impale her with, Chrysalis quickly changed her appearance to that of Diane, stopping Sombra from continuing his assault.

That isn't me Sombra! Snap out of it! The voice in his head shouted, quickly bringing him back to reality just as Chrysalis sent her blast out. Sombra raised a series of red crystal walls positioned in a way for the blast to reflect off of them, and after circling around him, sent back at Chrysalis who did not get the chance to react.

The changeling was pushed back several meters as she landed on the ground in a loud crash. Sombra began to pant as he walked close to her who seemed immobile. They stared at one another as Sombra's irises faded back into sight.

"So what now? You kill me off too?!" Chrysalis asked aggressively. He truly wanted to just end it. Chrysalis had not hesitated to finish him off, so he was about to show her the same treatment.

Every living thing deserves to live... The voice rang in his head once again, causing Sombra to pause as his stoic expression leered down at his foe. Silence fell for several minutes as they locked eyes.

"No...I cannot condemn you for trying to take revenge on me. But know that I killed Dycus because he killed Diane and Fetch! I too deserved my revenge for their deaths."

"So why did you kill him!" She cried out. "If you wanted to make him feel the same way you felt you should have taken my life, not his!" She said as her voice began to crack. Her emotion starting to bleed out from her sudden outburst."

"Yes...I could have killed you to get my revenge..." Sombra said as he stepped close to offer a hoof to Chrysalis. "But why would I involve some pony who had nothing to do with it? Revenge would not have solved anything. What I needed was to end the war with our races..." Hesitantly, she took his hoof and staggered to her feet. "Besides, I cannot hate you for how you survive, you were born needing to feed on ponies like us. Diane taught me that even changelings deserve to live. We can't take that right away from you, but that doesn't mean we'll just stand around waiting to die."

"So why not just kill me now?"

"The changelings won't survive without their queen. Everyone deserves a change to live."

"You might regret this later..."

"I already am. But this once, in memory of Diane I'll do as she would have."

The two 'royals' stared off at each other once more before Chrysalis finally took flight and left the scene, leaving a very distraught unicorn. He let himself fall to the ground in a loud grunt as his vision blurred. His eyes fixed to the dirt beneath him, he saw his own tears fall and damping the ground. "I'm sorry..." He said to himself. "I am so sorry..."

Pinkie and Fluttershy slowly made their way to the crying stallion as she shook from the wave of emotion he was feeling. They didn't say anything, They didn't need to. All they did was sit next to him as for the first time since his arrival, he allowed his emotions to flow. The stoic facade had finally been torn all the way down, now naked for all to see. They too began to weep with him.

16. The Day After

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The snowy winds blew hard as Sombra stared off into the abysmal terrain. A sight he dreaded to remember, the last thing he saw before heading out for his scouting mission all those years ago.

"You look silly when you zone out like that." Diane said as she approached from behind. Sombra slowly turned to look at her. He had know he was dreaming again, but this time, he didn't want to stop it. He decided to play out the events one last time.

"I-I'm simply worried about leaving." He began as he tried to recall what it was he said all those years ago. "I'm terrified something bad will happen if I go..."

"It's not like you to worry Sombra." Diane said as she circled him. "I'll tell you exactly what will happen. You are going to go, complete whatever mission that was assigned to you, and when you return we will celebrate Fetch's birthday."

"That's right...It's his birthday tomorrow isn't it?"

"Did you forget? You really need to get your head back in the game Sombra. I know your job as a soldier is important, but you're still part of this family. Don't forget that okay?" Diane said as she kissed Sombra on his cheek. He remained motionless as the mare began to walk back. He stayed still until she was out of sight before letting out a sigh.

"We...have never seen the end of the dream." Princess Luna said as she flew down. She had entered his dream like every other night, but he had always pushed it away before it had a change to take its course.

"It is painful to remember Luna." He said as he turned to face her. "Surely you can understand why I always pushed back this memory."

"Yes...We heard of what happened lastnight. About Chrysalis."

"I must admit, I was lacking. I hadn't fought a battle like that in a good while. But I did end up discovering something very interesting." Sombra said as he stepped closer. "And I was wondering if you could do me a favor."

"How can We be of assistance?"


Sombra slowly opened his eyes. He was tired, but his internal clock would not allow him to return to sleep, so with a deep painful sigh he sat up. His body was sore and still bruised, but he ignored the aches as he began to get out of bed. The night before had been a rather awkward one. As he remembered correctly, he did quite a few embarrassing things in front of those mares. And thinking back, his word choice might have given them the wrong ideas on various occasions. Sombra held his head as he began to regret some of his actions.

"I am never going to drink again..." He mumbled to himself as he got up. His hooves struggled to support his weight, but after a few seconds, he managed to get them used to his movements. Over by the corner of his room his small closet remained open from the night prior. His broken armor and tattered cape laid cluttered at the bottom. He walked close to it as he began to inspect the damage. Using his magic, he picked up a random metal plating, but to his surprise, what he grabbed was his broken crown. He stared at it as the rising sun from his window reflected off the the center ruby at the top of his crown.

"Hmmm." He hummed to himself as he tore out he gem and looked at it. This ruby was the gift he was giving Fetch on the birthday he never got to see. It had been so long since he last paid any real attention to his dreams that he had all but forgotten. "I can't keep running from it huh?" Sombra asked himself as he called the voice he heard in his head during the fight with Chrysalis. "Isn't that right Diane?"

Sombra finished getting dressed in the outfit given to him. He had been quite glad he decided to switch attires or this one would have been the one destroyed instead, and he did not want to be the one to tell a seamstress that her hard work had been for nothing. Stepping out of his room, Sombra glanced around to see a very worried Twilight that was currently interrogating her dragon assistant.

"Where were you lastnight and why didn't you call me when Chrysalis showed up?!" She asked as she circled Spike.

"I-I don't know. One minute I was helping Celestia with something, next thing I know, I'm back here and the library is destroyed." He said as tried to explain himself.

"Celestia? You mean that you can't remember even coming to Ponyville with me?"

"Good morning Sparkle." Sombra said, interrupting the two from getting too agitated.

"Oh Sombra, what are you doing up? You're wounded." Twilight said as she rushed over to the limping stallion.

"None sense. Staying in bed would only burden my body. I'd rather get right to work."


"Indeed. I have a cottage to fix." He said as he began to make his way out, though paused to glance at the awkwardly placed curtain over the gaping hole he had created when first confronting Chrysalis. When he and the mares had returned from the forest they had helped cover it with the curtains from the windows in the library. It was during that time that Chrysalis had returned baring a small gift for them. Spike, who she had left for dead in Canterlot was given back, mostly unharmed. Everyone deserves the chance to live...right? Chrysalis said as he delivered him over.

"Don't judge him too hard..." Sombra began to defend the drake. "He was hit on the head when the wall came crushing down. He probably just has amnesia."

"I was?" Spike asked as he grabbed his head, and sure enough, there was a bruise there. "Oww!"

Sombra smile as he endulged in being quick witted. That bruise was actually from when Chrysalis had knocked him out, but it was really a nice way to save both their necks. If Twilight found out that Chrysalis had been next to her the whole time, tartarus save the changeling queen.

As Twilight began to try to look after her assistant, Sombra made his way out. "Well, at least this time it was only a single house and a wall." Sombra said as he looked around. He had already built a reputation buildings being destroyed when he was around, so having only two structures brake last night was something that could be considered 'progress.'

There was a slight limp to his walk, but he did his best to hide it, after all, he had an image to maintain. But as he strained to keep his facade up, he once again remembered how he had accidentally allowed Fluttershy and Pinkie his true feelings. Somehow he had a feeling that was going to come back to bite him in the plot, but now was not the time to think of that. He needed to make things right. It was his fault that Fluttershy was now homeless and needed to take responsibility for it. Sombra made his way to Sweet Apple Acres where he hoped to find some pony that might offer their services.

"Hey there Sombra." Applejack greeted him as he entered the property. "You seem a bit wobbly, the booze from last night giving you a hard time?"

"Something like that..." Sombra said, trying to avoid going into detail. "I was wondering if you had some materials I could purchase from you."

"What kind?"

"The building kind. I may, or may not be the cause for Fluttershy's recent homlessness..."

An awkward silence befell them as the farm pony tried to make out the situation.



"What in tarnation did you do lastnight."

"How much time do you have? This might take a while."


"Good Morning!" Pinkie shouted as she nudged at Fluttershy to wake her. She had stayed over at her house since she no longer had a place to stay for the time being.

"Oh, good morning Pinkie..." Fluttershy responded as she lazily sat up from her sleeping bag as she rubbed her eyes.

"Breakfast is ready, we made pancakes!" The pegasus seemed a little down as she glanced over at the pink mare.

"A-Actually." She tried to say. "I kind of wanted to see how Sombra was doing. Maybe, you know, eat together?" Fluttershy said as she blushed, hiding her face in the sleeping bag.

"Oh silly filly, why do you think I made them to go?" Pinkie asked with a sly smile as she held up a basket. "I'm worried about him too. I wanted to check up on him and I knew you'd want to too!" She shouted excitedly.

"Y-Yes, check up on him. That's right." Fluttershy said as she began to stand up. As the mare began to exit the house, Fluttershy couldn't help but think about how much her heart was beginning to race. Since last night she couldn't stop thinking about how Sombra had acted. Sure she was completely horrified of the stallion when they first met, but now he had a sort of charm to him that she had began to like.

"Say." Pinkie said, bringing her back to reality. "What was Sombra doing at your cottage last night anyway?"

"Oh, I don't really know. He woke me up and told me to come with him. By the time I got up Chrysalis had arrived and the fight began. I spent most of my time running and hiding, so I'm not sure why exactly he came to me..." Fluttershy said as she too began to wonder what his intentions were. "Well, at one point he did mention how he needed me around to fight. That I gave him some sort of strength."

"What!?" Pinkie blurted out, but quickly covering her mouth as she realized she had screamed. "I mean, he said that?"

"Yeah. I'm not exactly sure what that meant though."

"I-I don't know either..." Pinkie said as she looked down. Her sudden cheerfulness dissipated slightly as she began to think about the situation more and more. Does Sombra like Fluttershy? She asked herself as she glanced over at her. She had began to greet some butterfly who were passing by. I mean, why wouldn't he? Fluttershy is very pretty and nice and nurturing.

The rest of the way to the library was rather quiet for the pink mare as she began to doubt her own relationship with Sombra. But he had said I was the best thing that happened to him... Pinkie was so caught up in her own though she had almost walked into the library's door, only stopped when Fluttershy knocked on it. It didn't take very long until someone opened it, and though they hoped for Sombra, they got Twilight.

"Oh hello girls." The alicorn said with a smile. "What brings you here?"

"Hi Twilight, we're here to check up on Sombra. We even brought him breakfast, right Pinkie?"

"Oh, uh right!"

Twilight sighed as she opened the door all the way. "Sorry, you just missed him. He said he wanted to go out and fix a cottage. By any chance, he wouldn't be referring to yours, would it Fluttershy?"

"Uh...Maybe." She responded as small sweat drops began to trail down her head.

"What exactly happened lastnight?" Twilight asked as she stepped close to the mares.

"Well..." Pinkie began. "How much time you got?"

17. A New Kind of Storm is Brewing

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The only noise that could be heard was the constant clamoring of hammers at work. Sombra used his magic to slam away at nails as he finished putting together a wall that was about to be raised. Though he seemed confident, in truth he had no idea what he was doing.

"Raise it now?"

"Eeyup." Responded a red stallion. His stature on par with Sombra's. On queue, Sombra used his magic to conjure up two crystal pillars that pushed up the wall.

"Now we start connecting it to the other's?"


Again Sombra worked on the cottage. Applejack's big bother Big Macintosh had offered to help him with the reconstruction and by offered, he meant that Applejack asked if he wanted to help he replied with probably the only word he had used until now. At any other time in his life, it might have irritated Sombra, but right here, right now, it was rather relaxing. There was no need to talk or make conversation. Just the essentials to getting work done and nothing else.

"What should I do next?" Sombra asked. Big Mac pointed at the tree he had brought over. "Should I plant it?"


Again the only sound was that of tools at work as the cottage began to take shape, surprisingly fast. It was a no brainier though, with Sombra's magic he could do things that made the labor much easier such as erecting walls and lifting entire sections of the building. Though he did admit that perhaps he was going a little over board with his use of the dark arts. But he had to, he wanted to drain himself of dark magic for a little experiment.

"Hello boys!" Pinkie shouted as and Fluttershy made their way to them. They were still pretty far from the cottage, but that didn't mean anything when Pinkie was around.

"And the nice quiet atmosphere just disappeared." Sombra said as he slowly looked up with an annoyed face.


"Wow! You guys have made a lot of progress already!" Pinkie said as she hopped around looking at the entire first floor of the cottage done. Fluttershy wasn't too far behind just as amazed.

"Yes, with Macingtosh's help I have made quite the headway into restoring Fluttershy's home. Again, I am sorry for what happened." Sombra said, directing that last part at the pegasus.

"Oh, it's okay. My little critters will come back when the reconstruction is finished." She responded with a smile.

I-Is she more concerned about her animals than her home?... Sombra thought to himself as she past him. Small sweat drops fell on him as he noticed how just how carefree she was with the entire situation. He had expected some sort of backlash from basically kidnapping her, getting her home destroyed, and using her as a power generator. Is she just that kind or simply not comprehending the situation?

"H-Hey Sombrie?" Pinkie asked as she began to calm down form her initial excitement. "Can I ask you something?"

"That depends on the question Pinkamena." Sombra responded, fearing she was going to ask about his little outburst of tears.

"About last night...was it the alcohol talking when you said that to me?"

"Said what exactly?"

"T-T-That I was the best thing to happen to you since you got to Ponyville..." Pinkie finished in a soft voice. Her confidence on the matter diminished as her words come out, and though barely audible, Sombra managed to hear it, and so did Fluttershy.

"The out burst was because of the cider, yes..." Sombra began, and as Pinkie heard him speak her heart sank. "But I wasn't lying. You treated like a friend when no pony else would, and though you annoyed me with how close you seemed to try to get with me, I appreciate it now that I've gotten to know you."

Pinkie's small frown became a large grin as Sombra finished his sentence. "Oh Sombrie!" She said as she jumped to him in a hug. An embrace that did not last very long before Sombra used his magic to raise a thin crystal wall between them.

"But I still dislike hugs Pinkamena." He said as a small hint of blush spread across his face.

"W-What about what you said to me?" Fluttershy interjected. "Y-You told me that you needed me to fight, that I was important and wanted to protect me."

Sombra blinked a few times as he was beginning to understand the frustration of both mare and suddenly felt very constraint. He could indeed answer with the truth and tell her that she was a power source to him, but something like that would crush her. A glance to Pinkie suggested that she too wanted an answer and Sombra's sweat betrayed his stoic composure.

"I did mean it. You gave me power to fight Chrysalis. If not for you and Pinkamena at the end, all three of us would have been dead." He said, not knowing whether he had made things better or worse, but quickly thought of something to change the subject. "Macingtosh, what time is is?"

"Ah reckon 'bout noon." He said to Sombra's surprise, finally saying something besides 'Eeyup'.

"Why so interested in the time?" Pinkie asked a little worked up with the subject.

"Did you forget Pinkmanena?" Sombra said as calm as possible. "I have to hurry up and finish here so I can be prepared for my welcome party this evening."

Suddenly, the pink mare's expression changed completely to that of horror. "The welcome party!!" She shouted out. "I still need to bake the cake and put up the decorations!" She said before running off at incredible speed, leaving a gust of dust in her tracks. Fluttershy who was the least affected by the recent exchange of words smiled.

"I should let you guys get back to work then. I'll be seeing you at your party Sombrie." Fluttershy said with a sweet tone, one that could melt any stallion's heart.

Silence fell once more as the stallions watched the mares go.

"I've dug myself into a hole haven't I?"


18. Time to Foalsit! (pt 2)

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"So are you sure you don't need any more help?" Sombra ask as he turned to glance one last time at the bulking stallion placing his tools back on his wagon.

"Eeyup." Big Mac responded. Nothing more was needed to be said. They were basically done with the restoration of Fluttershy's cottage safe for the grassy rooftop, which Mac was going to do on his own. Though Sombra had offered to help, the other said that using magic would not help the grass. Apparently there was a whole process to keeping the grass alive on the cottage that was specifically made for Fluttershy and her critters.

This really cut into the time needed to work on the cottage for Sombra as he began to wonder aimlessly through Ponyville. A quick glance at the sun in the sky told him that there was still plenty of time before Pinkie's party, but he really did not wish to go to the library. Twilight would be there and that alone would be cause for discomfort, on her part more than anything. This morning she had shown an unbelievably strong interest in his well being, which perplexed him.

Up until now she had wanted nothing more than to keep him locked up and hidden away, but this morning not only did she not show any sort of aggression, she even allowed him to leave without an escort. Sombra's mind raced as he played out multiple scenarios as to why the sudden change of heart, but then the most obvious one came to mind.

"Agatha..." He mumbled to himself as he came to a stop. Surely she had something to do with it. They were curious about his history with the changelings, maybe they looked up his part in the changeling war, maybe they found out about his lineage. About his brief time in Canterlot as a colt. Could she have really found all of that out?

"You alright there?" A voice suddenly jolted Sombra back to reality. He looked around and found a mare who looked at him rather oddly.

"Oh, hello Ditzy." Sombra said as he straightened his composure, A second glance at her allowed him to see that she was in a sort of uniform, and by the bag around her back, she delivered mail. "I am fine, just a lot on my mind."

"I see, so what are you doing here exactly?" Derpy asked as she gestured with her arm. Sombra hadn't noticed that he had stumbled upon a school of some sort. Small, but for a town like this is was surely big enough for a number of fillies and colts.

"Huh, I hadn't noticed." He said just as the bell ran and a flood of small ponies ran out from the building. He was overwhelmed to say the least. "How did all those children fit in there?" He questioned casually.

With a small giggle Derpy responded. "It might seem small, but it's bigger on the inside."

"Mommy!" They heard a filly cry out as she ran to them. "What are you doing here?" Dinky asked as she hugged her mother.

"I just happened to be in the area and wanted to see you for a few seconds before getting back to work." Derpy responded as she picked up her daughter and tossing her up. Before she could even begin to fall back down the grey mare flew up and caught her as they both began to giggle. A smile began to stretch across Sombra's face as he saw the two interact. Being short on time, Derpy placed the filly back down and say their goodbyes.

"Okay my little muffin, stay out of trouble." Derpy said as she began to leave, but not before glancing at Sombra. "You stay out of trouble too."

"What ever do you mean?"

"Ponyville is a small town, word gets around fast. Especially when houses get blown up. Not to mention that I meet lots of ponies when I deliver mail." She finished with a wink. To this Sombra remained quiet as he began to question his life choices in a rather comical manner.

"Mister Sombra?"


"What are you doing here?"

"Good question, I wonder that a lot as well. Some times I wonder why the blizzard didn't finish me off, or why I have survived the wounds of battle and war, or why Celestia took pity on me when I was found."

"I don't get you some times..." Dinky said as she scratched her head, seeming confused by Sombra's words, oblivious to his past.

"Ponies rarely do, little one."

"Oh!" She finally said. "I've got a great idea!"

"Pray tell, what is this marvelous idea you speak off?" Sombra said as he chose to humor her.

"Follow me!" Dinky said as she bit onto his mane, pulling him along.

"You realize it's not 'following' if you drag me along right?" He joked.

The two ventured somewhere into the woods not too far from the school. As they approached what Sombra believed to be their destination; sounds of wood clashing and children screaming and laughing filled the air. Dinky maneuvered through the bushes of the area quite well, but from Sombra height it was more funny than how dramatic she made it seem.

"Take that!" A voice said in the distance.

"Ah! I'm down I'm down!" Another responded, as Sombra peeked out from the bushes along with Dinky. He saw quite a strange sight, fillies and colts all dressed in improvised armor and robes were running around and fighting one another in a sort of role play.

"Where are we?" Sombra asked as he stepped out. Dinky did the same and shook the leaves off her body before replying.

"Well you said something about war, and it reminded me off the game my friends and I play after school. We dress up and pretend that we're fighting in an epic pony war!"

The fillies and colts who had been playing up until now began to take notice of the rather tall new participant and slowly began to crowd around him.

"War you say?" Sombra said as he glanced around and saw their rather tacky armor and weapons. "And how exactly are you fighting this war?"

"We get a sword and we hit each other with it!" A colt shouted from the crowd and many cheered in agreement.

"Classic combat, I agree, but how do you know who is friend and who is foe?" He asked out to the crowd.

"We separated into the three races. Unicorn, pegasus and earth." This time a filly said from the side.

"Hmm, so an epic pony war of the divided races? A very interesting premise." Sombra said as he inspected the children. As he did all of them held a rather large grin. Like Derpy had said, word spreads quickly, and thanks to Dinky, every filly and colt now knew of Sombra and his recent accomplishments, safe for the one from last night, only a few knew of that one, and apparently Derpy was one of those few.

"But I must say you are going at it all wrong." At once all the children gasped as if their dreams and hopes had been crushed. Sombra quietly walked out of the crowd and took a deep breath before turning around. "I guess that just means I should educate you, right?" All the children shouted out in a cheer as they ran back up to him as he began to teach them in the ways of war.


Twilight, after finding out what had happened last night, was looking for Sombra. Partly to see how he was fairing from his recent injuries, and partly to scold him for the risks he took, placing the lives of her friends in danger, boy would she give him an ear full. By the time she finally was able to go to see Fluttershy's cottage, it had been completely fix, as if nothing had ever happened, had it not been for Big Mac packing up his stuff when she arrived, she might have questioned her friend's story, so she was completely lost as to where he would be.

"Gah, where is that stallion?" Twilight asked out loud to no pony in particular as she looked left and right for him. She had been to the center of town, Pinkie's place, and even Applejacks, but each time she arrived anywhere they would all say that they hadn't seen him since morning. "You'd think that a guy that leaved destruction in his wake would be easy to find."

"Talking about Sombra?" Derpy asked as she closed a mailbox. Twilight had just past her and in her self absorbed rant, hadn't noticed her.

"Oh, uh yeah. You wouldn't have happened to see him would you?"

"Last I saw him he was near Cherilee's school." Derpy said with a smile. Twilight didn't share the gesture as she seemed almost distraught by the statement.

"What!? What is he doing with children?"

"Don't know, but I wouldn't worry. I'm sure that with him around they are perfectly safe." Derpy teased, only adding to Twilight's burning desire to find him. "In all seriousness, I do have something to ask you though."

Reverting back to her rather calm demeanor, Twilight looked at the cross eyes mare with a worried expression. "What's wrong?"

"Sombra, do you trust him? It's just, I know he tends to save ponies recently, but the things the newspaper had said about him, about always being evil and even when helping the places around him end up destroyed. I-I'm just worried for Dinky. I know that with Ponyville housing you and the other elements we are more or less safe, but I can't shake the feeling that..."

Twilight pressed her hoof against Derpy's muzzle, causing her to stop her small monologue, As the grey mare looked at her, she saw Twilight give her a gentle smile that somehow brought some peace to her mind.

"I think that Sombra is doing the best he can with what he has." She finally said. "I too am guilty of thinking badly of him, but I've found that he has quite a soft spot, give him a chance okay?"

Responding with a smile of her own, Derpy replied. "Okay!"

Twilight couldn't believe it herself. Just the other day she was hell bent on getting Sombra as far away from her and Ponyville as possible, now she was defending his actions. As the mare waved goodbye, Twilight help a strange shift in the wind, almost simbolic, but she couldn't exactly linger in the uncertain, what she needed to do now was find Sombra. She had something she needed to say to him.

Following Derpy's instructions, she began to search around the school yard, but it was just as she had believe, no pony to be seen, well, all but Cherilee who was still locking up.

"Hi Cherilee, have you seen Sombra anywhere?" Twilight asked to the mare just now closing the door to her school.

"Sombra? That stallion that saved us from the Ursa? Can't say that I have." She replied as she placed a hoof to her chin. "It would be hard to miss such a handsome stallion."

Brushing that last comment aside, Twilight tried a different approach. "Well, do you know where your class has gone to?"

"Oh, most day they like to go play in the woods not too far from here. I've already checked the place out and it's completely safe...unless Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetiebelle are there. Those three always end up getting either themselves or some pony else hurt." Cherilee said as she passed Twilight.

"Right, thanks!" She replied as she spread her wings and took flight making her way in the direction the teacher had gesture before waving bye. Sure enough, she soon found Sombra with a small flock of children as he walked back and forth speaking about something. It was very strange, it was almost like they were at attention or something. "Hey Sombra!" She shouted as she flew down, getting the attention of the dark stallion.

"Oh, hello Sparkle. What are you doing here?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing. What are you doing working with those injuries?"

Sombra slowly turned around as the children remained very still, which was unsettling for the mare. "I can assure you I did no heavy lifting. I used my magic the majority of the time, and now I am taking some down time to teach these fillies and colts on proper combat procedures."

"What!? They're too young for whatever you're teaching them!"

"Too young you say? It was their idea, I am simply assisting in their endeavors. Which, by the way, you are interrupting."

"Huh? What is that supposed to mean?"

But before Twilight could get a response a loud collection of screams and shrieks were heard. Both pegasus and earth pony fillies began to run out of the rear by trees, abandoning their cover and running to where Sombra and Twilight were standing. Using his magic, Sombra raised himself up in a pillar to get a better view as the fillies and colts began their role play. Twilight joined him so after, but not without a scream of her own at almost being tramped by tiny hooves.

"What is going on here?!" She shouted out, looking at Sombra for an answer.

"Short answer: An Epic Pony War of the three races."

"And the long?"

"I am helping the fillies and colts appreciate their childhood, playing out their fantasies while I pray they never actually have to go to war themselves." Slowly, he turned to the purple mare and with eyes that could almost be called sad, continued to speak. "I would not wish for them to have to go through the same thing I did."

Twilight was again lost as to how she should react. On one hoof, she wanted to scold him for allowing them to play out such dangerous games, but at the same time, she could feel his sincere motives on the matter. Twilight sighed as she stepped close to him and looked down at the children playing, screams and laughter was heard even at their height.

"Okay, I get it. So were you planning on just supervising them while they played?"

"It isn't like I have anything else to do, Sparkle."

"Well...can I help?" Twilight asked almost awkwardly. Being so friendly and caring towards him was still foreign ground, and it was pretty hard to get used to. Sombra eyed her and hummed to himself as the thought.

"Sure. Children! I ask for your attention!" Sombra shouted, and at once every pony came to a halt. Twilight was astonished at how much influence he seemed to have over them. "It seems that Miss Sparkle wants to partake in our little war. Thus, I would like to ask of you to cooperate and split the earth ponies among the unicorns and pegasi. Sparkle and I will split and command each army." At once all the children cheered in excitement as they all rushed to split up, trying to get into their teams as fast as possible.

"Wait, what are you doing!?" Twilight asked as she looked at him rather bewildered.

"What's wrong Sparkle? Afraid of a little game of chess?" Sombra asked with a sly smile.

19. The Party Doesn't Start Until Sombra Walks In

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"R-Retreat!" Twilight called out as she and her 'army' began to back away from an encounter. The forest they were in, though not very dense, managed to hide the small colts and fillies pretty well and her own time got ambushed. "Run back to the clearing we saw earlier!" Again she shouted at them from the sky.

Sombra, who was watching from a pillar not to far away used his magic to lift one of the fillies, told her something, then placed her back to deliver the message. A much more secretive way than Twilight's hollering. Just as Twilight's 'army' reached the clearing, they formed a circle and faced all directions as she had instructed during briefing.

Twilight smiled at herself as she saw her textbook defense strategy in play as Sombra sneaked behind her on his pillar. "Nicely done, a great way to keep from being attacked by surprise." He complimented her.

"I read it was an old battle strategy."

"Yes, but you failed to remember that that is an earth pony vs earth pony strategy, things get more complicated when you fight pegasi." He said as a sly smirk spread across his face. Twilight looked at him puzzled, but out of the corner of her eye she saw a filly flying high above the clearing.

"Woohoo!" Scootaloo screamed as she soared in the air. "This is awesome!"

"Scootaloo?!" Twilight asked out in shock. "But she can't fly!"

"No, she can't, but in this scenerio she is a pegasi warrior, so she can." Sombra responded, and upon a closer look, Twilight noticed his horn was glowing with magic. He was levitating her way above ground to gank her army. Quickly realizing what was going to happen, she screamed out.

"Be careful from above!"

At once, all of Twilight's soldiers looked up to see Scootaloo blowing raspberries at them. Agitated, they began to scream and shout back at her, but failed to see that Sombra's army was now encroaching on the clearing and making their way to the middle, where a large battle ensued. Twilight raised a hoof to her face as she looked at them begin to squabble around in their 'fight'.

"Oh Celestia, they got out of formation."

"That was your fault Sparkle." Sombra said turning to face her. "Your sudden outburst distracted them and made them vulnerable."

"But how did you know that this would happen?"

"You've been shouting your commands since the match began, a faint using a pegasi would make you give an order you didn't mean to give as a spectator. Simple as that."

Twilight looked down and saw as some children cheered, Sombra's army stood happy as they hugged each other as Twilight's played dead for the sake of the role play.Her army was annihilated. Each move she had made was countered and easily out matched, it was obvious that his experienced as king made him an excellent commander.

"Well...looks like you won." Twilight said as she landed on his pillar, making him step back a little. "You're really good at this." She said, trying to make small talk, though did not know why.

"Yes, you could say I've done this before." He responded.

"H-Hey, Sombra. I've been meaning to apologize to you."

Silence fell for a minute as he made his crystal pillar descend. They stood quiet as Sombra turned to her and with a raised eyebrow asked, "And why is that? You did not seem like the type to do so."

"Well, I am, I just haven't been very kind to you..." Twilight said as she stepped closer, her sincerity on the matter was almost staggering, and she was clearly a little awkward as how to go about it.

"There's nothing for you to apologize for Sparkle." He said as she shrugged off her confrontation. "You saw a threat and tried to contain it to keep those you care about safe. It was a noble act and there is no need to regret it."

"But I was being unfair to you."

"Unfair but not without some truth." Sombra said as he turned around. "I might...have had a plan or two that involved death and destruction."


"Relax, I am not exactly in the same mindset as before. It is strange, actually. I can feel myself be a different stallion from when I first arrived here."

Calming down, Twilight walked over to him and placed a hoof on his shoulder, getting his attention. "I can see that too. I doubt that you would have rebuild Fluttershy's home out of your own free will a few weeks ago. Pinkie must have had an influence on you some how."

Sombra closed his eyes, an image of Pinkie and Diane appeared in his head, and though they looked different, they shared the same beautiful sapphire eyes. As he glanced at them in his head he smiled. "Yes, she might have."

A small sneeze was heard, quickly grabbing the attention of the two ponies only to see that they have had an audience. Dozens of gleaming eyes stared at them as they glanced at each other and back.

"I-Is everything ok?" Twilight asked, breaking the small tension.

"Is Mister Sombra your special somepony princess?" A filly asked out. The blunt question took her by surprised as she struggled to speak.

"Wha-what!? No no no no, of course not." She said, but quickly turned to Sombra and said "Not that you wouldn't make a nice special some pony, but I'm just not into you like that!" This was met by a lot of giggles as Twilight blushed as she tried at to explain herself but failed. "S-Sombra! Say something!"

After a small chuckle he turned to the fillies and colts. "No children, Miss Twilight Sparkle and I are not a couple. Now run along and play your war, lest I send you all home early."

"Nooo!" They screamed as they spread out, quickly getting back to their game. Sombra smiled at how easily he could manipulate the children, something he took much pride in.

"That was a bit awkward, sorry about that Sombra. Children can be a bit...blunt." Twilight said as she tried to regain her composure.

"That is no problem at all, but I'd rather not get myself involved in another predicament.." Sombra said as he turned to gaze at the children playing

"What was that?"

"Nothing, don't worry about it Sparkle."

Sombra began to walk towards a large tree where the shade blocked the sun's heat from him. Taking a moment and give out a sigh of content, he laid down with a smile on his face, one he wasn't aware of. Twilight soon came to join him in his 'foal sitting'. No pony had asked him to look after the kids, but he seemed to take joy in doing so. He gave off a strong fatherly sense, and the kids knew it. Every so often one of them would come to him with a question which he would answer in a quick and some times sarcastic manner, but all in all, them seemed to get along.

"Have I mentioned how good you are with kids?" Twilight said as she stood next to him.


"Where did you learn how to treat them?" Twilight asked, though she expected the same backlash like before, but instead what she got was an exasperation and a sad glance from Sombra.

"It was a long time ago. You've read up on my history right?"

"Only your involvement in the changeling war." This surprised the dark stallion. He had expected her to know every detail about him. It was fine either way, he didn't have anything to hide, but at least now he could feel like no pony can take pity on him.

"When I arrived at the Crystal Empire, I was wounded. I had...some complications in my travels. Diane was a mare who took me in with the possibility that I was a changeling prying on her kindness."

"Diane is Agatha's sister right?"

"Correct. A widow from the war and with a foal. Even with all of that on her shoulders, she took me in and nurtured me back to health. In return, I did my best to help her in any way I could, one of those ways was though foal sitting. Fetch was the little guy's name."

"I-I see. Do you miss them?" Twilight asked, kneeling down beside him.

"Now that most of my memories have returned, I do. It is strange, my time as a tyrant seems foggy in my eyes, like a blurred memory. Perhaps I simply wasn't me back then, and my recent disconnection with dark magic has brought my old self back."

"You know, Agatha still cares about you, she understands your struggles. I am sure that other ponies do too-"

"Sparkle, I know where you are going with this, but I'd rather not hear it. No amount of forgiveness with change what I've done. My actions are my own."

Being shoot down like that made Twilight quiet. A silence that lasted longer than either one wanted because things were getting a little awkward now. But like any filly, oblivious to the atmosphere, Sweetie Belle come right up to them.

"Hey Mister Sombra?"


"Do you have a special some pony?" She asked with a large grin upon her face. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom hid behind her as they giggled to themselves to her sudden question to him.

"I do not, why do you ask?"

"Well, you know that Miss Cherilee is single right now right? I know I wouldn't mind have both of you as my teachers!" Sweetie Belle shouted out as she began to picture them teaching a class together.

"Yes, I am aware, but uninterested."

And just like that, Sweetie Belle's bubble was bursted. "What!?" She squeaked out. "Why?"

"I have enough mares to worry about at the moment child, you would not understand." He said standing up. "And one of those mares is throwing me a party in a few minutes." He finished as he walked towards the flock of colts and fillies. Twilight watched as he rounded them all up and dismissed them. He was so in sync with them, as if they had known each other for years, it was almost scary to know that he had so much influence on the future of Ponyville.

"Off we go." Sombra said as he walked past the mare, who proceeded to lead the way to Pinkie's party. The air had calmed between them, and once they had reached town, it was as if nothing had happened between them at all.

Well, at least I've made some progress on him Twilight thought to herself as they walked. Perhaps soon they would be friends too. Truth be told, she had so many things she wanted to ask him but was too hung up on his 'reputation' to allow herself to even think about asking them. Namely, she was curious as to dark magic and its properties. She had read his reports, dark magic was used for good. Perhaps it wasn't as black and white as she had once seen it.

"Something on your mind?" Sombra asked, breaking the mare out of her train of thought.

"Oh no, I was just spacing out."

"I see." He responded, though not fully believing that was the case. "Well, you've known Pinkamena much longer than I have. What kind of parties does she 'throw'?" He asked as they reached the library's door where they would straighten up before heading to Pinkie's place where they expected the party to be held, but as the door opened, they were met with confetti, streamers, and very loud noise makers.

"SURPRISE!" Ponies screamed from inside the library to them.

"Well....she really likes surprise parties..."

Slowly the duo walked in as ponies greeted them with smiles, a situation neither of them were prepared for.

"Hi Princess! It is so good to see you."

"Hello Sombra, nice work on the Ursa man."

"Lovely day isn't it?"

"Pinkie throws the best parties! I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself Sombra."

Sombra was definitely not used to such a friendly environment. This was miles out of his comfort zone, but there really wasn't he could do about it but embrace it for now. He shook hooves with a couple of folks and exchanged smiles before finally meeting with a familiar face, though not one he really wanted to see.

"Hello Sombra, how are you?" Fluttershy asked with a gentle smile.

"I am...fine. A little shaken, but fine."

"Oh I know what you mean, when Pinkie first threw me a party I was overwhelmed to say the least."

"I am sure." Sombra said as he recalled her very timid personality. It would be a wonder to see how exactly she survived knowing some pony like Pinkie, but speak of the devil...

"Sombrie!" A high pitched voice shouted as she darted across the library. "I'm so happy you made it, I thought you wouldn't cause you took a while, but you came after all! So what took you?" Pinkie asked out in almost a spaz like manner. It had definitely been the first time he saw her like this, but then again, this was the first time she was in her 'environment'. He had read about she was such a party pony, but only now did he understand the full meaning behind it.

"Yes, I was held up by fillies and colts who involved me in their game. Pinkamena, you realize we're in library right? We're supposed to be quiet."

"You sound just like Twilight." Pinkie said with a smile.

"Indeed he does." A more regal voice echoed in agreement. Ponies kneeled and parted to give way as Princess Celestia, a pony Sombra was not expecting to be present.

"Hello Celestia." Sombra said as he lowered his head in a nod, not exactly a bow, but respectful enough to greet royalty like her."It is...a surprise to see you here."

"That's cause I invited her!" Pinkie said as she jumped up in her joy. "You see whenever I plan parties I invite all of the pony's closest friends, but you don't have very many friends yet, so I had to get creative in who to invite!"

"Indeed you did..." Sombra said as he and Celestia locked eyes. He wasn't prepared for this, but to make things worse, she spoke as if they were old friends.

"I was happy to attend Pinkie, and even more overjoyed to see how far you've come from your tyrannical ways."

"Yes, well I do try to please."

"Oh, and I received your message from Luna." Celestia said as she reached around to get an envelope which she handed to him.

"What message? I do not recall having her relay any message."

"Well, no, but she told me of your request. You wanted to attend a party in Canterlot no? When she asked me if I could pull any strings I made sure to get you invitations to the Grand Galloping Gala." She finished with a smile, but as her words left her mouth the entire library came to a halt as they all stared at them. Sombra suddenly did not mind the loudness from before.

The awkward silence was getting to him, so in order to break it he looked inside the envelope where he found two tickets. He then gave her a puzzled look.

"Why are there two here?"

"I want you to take some pony with you, a close friend perhaps?" Celestia said as she came close to wink at him. A gesture he wasn't all to comfortable with as he glanced over to Pinkie and Fluttershy who were happily looking at him.

"What about us?" Twilight said as she stepped close, her friends close behind to hear in as well. "Are me and my friends getting tickets again this year?"

"Why yes, but in order to make sure some pony doesn't wind up with two tickets, I'll withhold them until Sombra finds some pony to bring along with him." Celestia said as she began to walk away to get some party cake. Soon the party began to start up again but Sombra couldn't help but feel eyes on his back as he once again began to question his life choices...

20. Making a Deal

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"This is a terrible situation I am in."


"I need to find some way out without hurting any pony."


"I need to be subtle, I need to plan out my actions and words very carefully."


"Macingtosh, do you know of anyway that I do do all of these things?"


Sombra was in a predicament of his life. Never before had he been in so much trouble. Never before had he been in such a dangerous situation. He never could have anticipated that he would be involved in triangle. A sigh left him as he leaned up against a tree, not far from him was Big Mac bucking away at a tree, getting his produce down and ready to sell.

It had already been a day since his party, and now more than ever Sombra could not stand being in town. It wasn't like before where every pony avoided him and spoke about him, no, now it was the exact opposite. Every pony wanted to chat, wanted to do a favor, just for those forsaken tickets Celestia had given him. And all this because he wanted to attend a Canterlot gathering to test something out.

"Hey, ya'll alright there?" Applejack shouted to them as she carried a bucket of apples on her back.

"Eeyup." Bic mac responded as he continued to buck, though that did not convince his sister.

"Hey Sombra, you leave my brother alone so he can work."

"Macingtosh, am I distracting you?"


"You heard him, he's fine." Sombra responded, though a somewhat sassy undertone to his speech. Though he wasn't sure as to why, it was almost as if he had taking a sort of comradery with Big Mac, and because of the recent drinking game with Applejack, a less uptight feel to speaking with her.

"Well if ya are gonna keep hidin' out in ma farm, get to work with Big Mac. Don't forget we run a business here, not a shelter." Applejack said teasingly before continuing on her way.

Though Sombra knew that it was a joke, he couldn't help but feel bad about just laying around while his friend worked. So he stood up and walked over to a tree to inspect it. As he glanced from Big Mac and back to the tree, the red stallion to notice at him and stopped his bucking.

"Ya ain't gonna try to apple buck are ya?" He asked.

"Should I not?"

"Ain't that easy."

"We'll see." Sombra said before turning around and mimicking Big Mac's kicking method. His first kick went about as well as Mac had expected, yielding very little apples from the branches. But once getting the feel for the tree, Sombra kicked once again and managed to drop quite a few apples. Not as much as Big Mac, but a fair amount.

"Yar strong for a unicorn."

"My mother was an Earth Pony." Sombra replied as he began to pick up some apple and place them in Mac's baskets. "Not as physically adept as other Earth Ponies, but my genes are still there."


Pinkie began to feel a little queezy. Even after making it all the way to Rarity's boutique she was now having second thoughts about being here. She took a few deep breaths to try to calm herself, but not working very well. Spinning on her hooves, she turned around.

"Maybe I'll try another day." Pinkie said with an awkward smile, trying to remain her usual self even though her head was wrapped in other places.

"Pinkie!" A voice called from the boutique's second floor window. "How nice to see you, what are you doing here?" Turning around Pinkie saw Rarity leaning on her window frame with a sly smile on her face. She clearly knew what was on her mind.

"Oh, uh, nothing. I was going to come visit, but I just, uh, remembered I have this thing to do...somewhere, else." Pinkie said as she took a step back with each word she spoke.

"Is that so? That is too bad, I suppose I should just get back to planning how I am going to sway Sombra into taking me to the Gala." Just as her words left her mouth, Pinkie was already in her boutique, up the stairs, and next to her as she shouted.

"What?! No you can't!" But just as she finished her statement she covered her mouth with her hooves. Rarity responded with a poke at her forehead.

"Oh darling, you know I would never betray you like that, I just wanted to get you up here."

Pinkie responded with a slight blush as began to calm down, but as she did she only became more confused after a quick glance around Rarity's room. It was filled with pictures of Sombra walking, and by the angle, who ever took the photo was hiding. There was a map of Ponyville with a dotted line marked as 'Sombra's walking routes', and plenty of notes about everything any pony knew about him.

"Funny, it sure looks like your planning on making a move on Sombra."

"Pinkie please, these are for you. I knew it was only a matter of time before you came to me for help, and I just had to be prepared." Rarity said as she looked over at her work with a grin from ear to ear. "And believe me I am."

"Yeah, well, I wasn't going to, but things got a little complicated..."

"Oh I know darling. I did not expect Sombra having to pick a date for the Gala, but it's perfect, he's going to pick you and you're going to have such a romantic night, I am certain of it!"

"No, Rarity. Umm, I might have some...competition."

As the words reached her ears, Rarity perked up. "Competition?" She asked out softly before turning and staring at Pinkie. "Who could possibly compete with you, darling? Give me a name and I will make sure that they can never make a move on any stallion ever again."

"It's Fluttershy."

"Oh...Well that complicates things...That complicates things a lot." Rarity said as she quickly ran off to look over some notes. Pinkie began to rethink her decision as she saw one of Rarity's hairs on her ever so perfect mane curl out of place. This could not end well for any pony if she got too...into it.



Fluttershy rubbed her nuzzle as she recovered from her little sneeze. She was feeding her critters in her newly reconstructed home and couldn't be happier.

"Oh dear, some pony must be talking about me. Maybe it's Sombra." She said with a blushing smile. After a quick daydream of Sombra's image popping out in her head she went back to feeding her animals.



Sombra sneezed as he carried a basket of apples along with Big Mac. The red stallion chuckled as he and Sombra made it into the farm house to load the cart Applejack would be using to sell them.

"Some pony is talking about ya." He said as he placed the apples down.

"Is that so? One thousand years ago it was the burning ears that meant some pony spoke your name, I suppose times change."


As they finished placing the baskets on the cart Applejack was just walking in to see them interact.

"Ya two seem like you've known each other for years." She said as she looked over at the apples, doubly making sure they were in good condition.

"Stallions simply click faster than mares." Sombra said.


"Well that's mighty respectable, especially since ya'll finished early. Guess ya ended up helping after all."

"I was restless anyway, needed some physical labor to get my blood going. Thought perhaps that would help clear my head to find a solution to my problem."

"So did it work?"

"Eenope." Big Mac answered for him, causing Sombra to just turn away with an annoyed look on his face, but as he did a thought crossed his mind.

"Say, what do you do when you're in over your head?" He asked Applejack as she began to attach herself to the cart.

"Well, with ma stubborn attitude, Ah tend to be in over my head quite often. Ah always go to Twilight for advice, she tends to know what to do."

"Hmm, interesting, perhaps I shall do the same." Sombra said as he turned around to make his way back home. As he left Applejack waved goodbye but once he was far enough she nudged her bother.

"It's probably a bad idea ta tell Twilight isn't it?" She asked, knowing that Big Mac had a better understanding of the situation. He took a minute to think about it before answering.


Sombra was already too far away to hear the siblings speak. He was just too eager to find a solution, he really did not want to stay in this situation much longer. But as he began to enter town he began to regret it.

"Hello Sombra! How are you today?"

"Just fine." He responded without paying much attention to the mare speaking to him. It had began...

"You're looking sharp as always! If you ever need your outfit dry cleaned I'll do you the favor!"

"Thanks but I politely decline."

"Hey Sombra have you eaten yet? I've got some extra seats in my restaurant."

"Not hungry."

Sombra was already tired of all these ponies speak to him like this. He just wanted to out of the was almost like he was back on the battle field, but this was a completely different kind of battle. Suddenly finding himself surrounded by ponies, his insticts kicked in. In almost a feverish scream, he shouted out into the air, causing every pony to suddenly quiet down, but before any of them could react, his eyes bursted in flames. Running forward, he leaped and transformed his body into dead black smoke which passed right over all his spectators. The crowd remained quiet even after he had left, and ever so slowly one spoke up.

"I wonder of he needed to get some where in a hurry." Instantly every pony ran off, no doubt to get a cab ready for next time they saw him.

Sombra had rushed inside the library through an open window and as he rematerialized, Twilight screamed out in shock. It seems he had placed himself two inches away from the alicorn who seemed to have been carrying dozens of books over her head.

"Sombra, why don't you use the front door like every pony?" She shouted as she tried to maintain her books from falling down.

"A thousand pardons, but I simply had to get in doors quickly."

"Let me guess..." Twilight said as she finally stabilized her precious tomes, putting them aside so they could talk. "Every pony is doing you favors to get on your good side so you give them your extra ticket?"


"Yeah, that happened to me last year too." She said as she recalled her own time of torture.

"Did you now, well this will make things easier. I need some advice, who should I give my extra ticket to? Pinkamena or Fluttershy?"

"Sure thing, I can help you, wait...What?!"

Twilight shouted as she began to realize the entirety of what he was asking of her. "Wait, wait wait, that time when Chrysalis attacked, you and Pinkie? and Fluttershy? You visited them in the night... What did you do?!"

Her voice had become loud enough to shake the library's structure down to its foundation. Sombra covered his ears and by the time he recovered from the screaming he saw Twilight rush at him in a very aggressive manner.

"So help me, if you hurt my friends I will skin you alive!" She said as she backed him into the wall. Sombra tried his best to remain calm, but she was rather intimidating despite her small size.

"You misunderstand...I may have accidentally given them the wrong idea about some things." Sombra said as he tried to defend his position before he was blown to smithereens. "And now that I have this ticket they expect me to go with them, I simply do not want to cause any trouble."

"And what? You're just going to lead them on? Do you even care about them?"

"Of course I do!" Sombra said as a faint blush grew on his face, but his expression determined in proving his side. "Those two helped me more than I would have asked of any pony. I do care about them which is why I don't want to hurt them in anyway."

Twilight's small rage quickly left her as he saw him stand his ground. It wasn't what she expected, but it was at least reassuring he wasn't just messing around with her friends. She sighed as she backed of, allowing them to calm themselves. As she walked back she turned around, not facing him."You still haven't answered my question. Do you care about them, do you like them in a romantic manner?"

"I-I don't know. I've been in love before, but the circumstances were different. I didn't have the freedom to court a mare before, nor did I have so much attention placed on me like this. I was a soldier and a king with duties and responsibilities. Personal matters came second for me."

Twilight took a deep breath and turned to look at Sombra. "You realize you're asking me to pick which of my friends gets to be happy in which doesn't right?"

"Yes, but you are the only that can help me right now. Besides, this way you can help me not bring any more trouble to either of them."

She sighed as she placed a hoof to her forehead, trying to process their conversation. Sombra seemed serious enough, and of course she did not want her friends to get hurt. Perhaps this way she could minimize the damage and keep things from heading south.

"Alright, fine, but I want something in return."

"And what and an old king offer a princess such as you?"

"Train me. Train me in dark magic. I've been curious about it and who else could teach me other than Sombra himself?"


"You realize that it was dark magic that drove me to being a tyrant do you not?"

"That is why I want you to mentor me. You can play damage control to keep me from doing so."

Silence once again. Finally Sombra let out a sigh as he contemplated his options. He was between a rock and a hard place, but really, he is an excellent teacher, and Twilight and excellent student. Perhaps this could work out after all.

"Alright. You have a deal Sparkle, but you and I will keep a very strict schedule, I am not taking any chances with you."


They shook hooves as their terms come to a close. Sombra's eyes looked at Twilight and how excited she seemed about it. Learning new things had always been a pleasure to her, that was no secret, but in this world, some things are best left unknown. Perhaps he was wrong to worry. Perhaps not.

21. A Light in the Dark

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"So when are we starting?" Twilight asked out joyfully.

"Soon." Was all that Sombra replied as they began to make their way out into the outskirts of town.

"So what are you going to teach me first? How to make those crystal things? Or maybe that smoke transformation! I've never seen magic that could so seamlessly shift physical matter into something so tangible without it being permanent. I am so excited about-" Twilight's speech was interrupted when she suddenly slammed herself against Sombra's backside.

He had suddenly come to a halt as he glanced at the now embarrassed mare. He was worried. Very worried. She was just too happy about learning and perhaps that excitement would blind her to how truly dangerous dark magic can be. Sombra turned to face Twilight as he stood up tall, the sun behind him reflected off his red scarred horn and Twilight soon got the message about being quiet.

"Sorry." She said with a faint blush, still embarrassed about how she was acting.

"Sparkle, I do not believe you understand just what you are getting into when you use dark magic." Sombra began as he gesture for them to continue walking, this time side by side.

"I know. Dark magic can consume who you are, changing you and making you do things you'd never do."

"And that's where you're wrong Sparkle."


"Dark magic doesn't change who you are. Dark magic chips away at you. The darkness you manipulate when casting spells comes at a high price for its power."

"So...what does that say about you Sombra? If it slowly chipped at you, but didn't change who you are, why did you become a tyrant?"

"One of the first things that are taken from you are you morals. Your core, your soul, the basis for who you are can never be taken away, but everything else can. When I ascended to king, my sole goal was to make the Crystal Empire run as smoothly as possible. For a time I was a kind king, I helped my people and made things easier, but Equestria from a thousand years ago is not the Equestria from today."

"Yes, there wasn't very much peace between cities. After Discord's rule it was every pony for themselves."

"Exactly. But one cannot survive alone, at least, not efficiently. I had to establish treaties, form alliances, and keep my empire safe from attackers. All of this took time and as the head of the empire, it took a show of strength. A show of dark magic."

"So the more you used your magic the less benevolent you became?"

"It is more complicated than that. Dark magic runs on negative emotion, fear being the easiest to come by and the strongest to empower you. I had to prove my strength. Give those around a reason to join me lest they want me as an enemy. I had already used a lot of magic battling the changelings, so I was already quite chipped away, and I could feel it."

"What did you do exactly?"

"I was not going to allow myself to lose. I did all I could to keep my mind on my goal by using what I like to call an 'anchor'." Sombra said as his eyes erupted with flames as a red crystal spouted from the ground. It was nothing special, just a small crystal shard that stood lonely in the grassy open lands they were in.

Twilight stepped close and stared at the red crystal. It was much different from his usual crystal pillars. The most obvious was it's red color, but there were also subtle things like how it reflected the light around it, allowing her to see herself in a very clear image. It was truly a beautiful object to look at.

"And what's an anchor?"

"Something that will keep you focused. When you are alone in the darkness, you can easily lose your way, and perhaps even lose yourself. Everyday I would produce this red crystal and I would be reminded of my purpose, my reason for being king."

Twilight turned from her reflection and asked Sombra. "What about Diane? Couldn't she had been your anchor?"

"She....had already passed away." Sombra said as he stepped forward to look into the red crystal. His flames flickered as his emotions began to surge out from the prison of Sombra's mind. "I had just gotten my magic..." He began.


Sombra growled out as he felt his body begin to pull apart. His essense was ripped out as it was replaced by the dark vortex circling him. The changeling that had been 'feasting' on Diane quickly came to a halt as he laid witness to the creation of a being of darkness. Afraid, the bug like creature took for the doors but was quickly stopped by the sudden appearance of a crystal wall.

"Where do you think you're going?..." Sombra said as he slowly walked out from the now diminished darkness. The changeling backed against the crystal wall as his face of terror flushed all color from it. Sombra wobbled slightly being having undergone such a painful transformation, but it did not effect his menacing figure as he now was only inches from the bug.

On the outside of the library many guards were now gathering at the crystal wall, trying to figure out what caused the loud noise.

"Some pony get a way in, look to see if the windows are open or something!" A stallion said as he pointed at guard to move. Before any of them could get very far, however, a spike punctured through the crystal wall and dripped green liquid as a loud excruciating scream was heard from the other side. Every pony remained still as they heard the drops fall into the green puddle beneath. Suddenly, the wall come down and they saw a terrifying stallion before them.

The library had become almost pitch black from Sombra's dark magic and the only thing illuminating the area was his purple flames that flickered in the wind and his sickly green and red eyes. No pony dared move, none could if they tried as Sombra slowly walked out of the library with Diane on his back.

"A medic..." He said softly, suddenly bringing a guard out of his shock.


"GET A MEDIC NOW!" Sombra shouted out, his voice echoing in the crystal halls as every guard scattered looking for the medic he wanted.


"Diane was wounded, but not yet dead." Sombra said as he and Twilight sat facing each other. He had them sit and meditate, clear their mind and in doing so, let go of any disrupting emotions. Though with his story telling, he was the one struggling to stay calm. Keeping her eyes closed like Sombra, Twilight took a deep breath and after exhaling, asked.

"She survived? Not that I wanted her to die or anything, but when you started the story I thought that she would die then and there."

"No no, had she really died then, I might have become more of a tyrant than I did. She survived, and in doing so she taught me a valuable lesson that I had forgotten until recently."

"And what was that?"


"Sombra every creature deserves to live. You shouldn't have killed that changeling."

"Diane!" Sombra responded at the patient on the hospital bed. Though she was awake, she was still pretty drained vitality, but still had enough in her to lecture him. "That changeling would not had hesitated to kill you, why should I hesitate to kill it?"

"He Sombra. It was a living sentient creature. It was after food, we are the changeling's diet. We cannot blame them or forsake them for being born what they are."

"They could have left Fetch an orphan!"

"He still would have had you Sombra." Diane said with an unexpected sweet voice that caught him off guard. "You are like a father to him. You raised him and stood by us when things got bad. I might have died last night, or I may die tomorrow, but it is fate. From the day I was born into this war I knew I could die as food for a changeling Sombra." Sombra looked away as the mere thought of losing her crossed his mind. His eyes ejected some flames before he turned to leave the room.

"Well I guess I'll just have to end this war, won't I?"

"Sombra? What are you doing? Where are you going?" Diane asked out, but it was too late. He was gone and well on his way. Running out of the hospital Sombra quickly made his way to city hall where he had just been kicked out the day before. As he ran in the busy streets of the Crystal Empire ponies would turn to stare as his flames made him stand out more than he already did.

"Sorry, no entry." A guard said at the front gate of city hall. "They are having a meeting again." But Sombra was not for games right now. using his magic he quickly pushed the guards out of the way as he broke down the doors. Again he ran in and brushed off any guards trying to stop him until he reached the meeting room where he did not hold back for his entrance. Again the meeting was interrupted by Sombra, but the broken doors and the flames from his eyes were more than enough to keep them quiet.

"Put me in the military. Now. I will change the flow of this war and put and end to it!" Sombra demanded as he walked in, making his way to the center of the room where every pony could see him. His flames only grew as they all become aware of his strength and magical power.

"Y-You again? How many times do we have to tell you we won't allow outsiders into our council?" The same chairman from before who had kicked him out said, though less high and mighty than before.

"I care not for your customs, I need to end this war now." He said. Though no pony wanted to confront him, no pony actually gave him an answer. The room remained silent as they all trembled before Sombra who only grew more and more irritated at their hesitation. He opened his mouth to shout, but was quickly shut as he felt a hoof on his shoulder. Standing beside him was the Crystal Princess of the Empire. Her elegant and calming blue shine of her coat was enough to bring his temper back to normal levels.

"No need to shout Sombra dear. These ponies are just weary of changeling spies is all."

"Yeah well there was a changeling in your guards. He almost killed Diane." He said as he shrugged off her hoof. "I have already proven myself to not be a threat, just let me do this. I want this war to end just as much every pony else."

"And if I were to allow you this favor, do you really think you can make that much of a difference? I've seen your strength, but what good will it be if changelings are just disguised as friends? Your power will mean nothing then."

"One, that is all I am asking. One opportunity to get a way to find changelings. Once I do I will cleanse the Crystal Empire of changelings. That I can promise you!"

The princess remained quiet as Sombra placed his proposal. A week in the changeling hive to find a way to spot them. Every other pony shouted out at his crazy idea, all but the princess who only stood and kept eye contact with Sombra, never wavering in his position.

"Alright Sombra. You get one chance."


"Was that Code 1-F?" Twilight asked as she and Sombra continued to sit as a small dark vortex began to circulate around them. It was Sombra's magic. He was using it to replicate his metaphor about being alone in the dark and as the minutes passed, the darker the enclosed area became. It was soon very hard to see one another even thought they were mere feet away.

"Yes. I got my chance to change the tide. And it worked. Our first ever true victory against the changelings. But it came at a cost. Every pony in my squad died as I did my best to find their defining trait that I could use to find them once disguised. They were the Princess's royal guard. The best of the best. And with them gone the empire was that much more defenseless."


Slowly Sombra came to his hooves as he tried his best to get off his bed. He was at the hospital after his mission. Badly wounded, it was a miracle he still lived to all the doctors.

"How are you feeling?" Diane asked as she walked in, her clam demeanor quickly vanished as she ran up to help him stand.
"Better. I need to get going."

"Nonesense. You just woke up. The doctors say you still need a few more days before you can even walk."

"The doctors are wrong." Sombra said as he took his first step and though a little unbalanced, he managed to stay up. "I need to get to work."

"Sombra, you're pushing yourself too hard." Diane said as she tried to stop him from going forward, a heavy frown and worried eyes on her face.

"I don't want to hear that from you." He said with a gentle smile. It was true. This mare had gone through more hardships than any pony could imagine, but it never stopped her. And it seems her stubborn will had rubbed off on Sombra, that of course wasn't an excuse for her. Physically, he shouldn't be doing anything, he can't do anything with a body so beaten and bruised.

"No means no." She protested.

"Diane, good stallions died out there keeping me alive so I could come back and keep the empire going. I am not going to disappoint them."

"But do you have to do it now? You just got back and Fetch and I missed you. We thought we would never see you again!" Diane said as her voice began to shake. He had kept herself shut to keep him strong, but Sombra act so reckless only made her worry more.

"Diane..." Sombra said as he stepped close to kiss her forehead. "It's going to take a lot more than this to kill me..."

With that Sombra was out the door. He was out for a walk, a walk he would make every single day for as long as he lived in the crystal empire. He would walk and look for changelings disguised out. Once found he would capture them and leave them for interrogation in the crystal castle. For days this was the routine. Sombra was the one soldier who was never called to duty. He was the only pony who could keep the empire cleansed from spies, and it certainly changed the tide of war.


"Sounds like a happy ending." Twilight said as she continued to breath in slowly in her meditation, oblivious to the thick darkness around her.

"You should know better."

"I do..."

The silent cloak of darkness intensified as Sombra's story began to come to a close. The sudden shift of it's strong current, Twilight began to flinch her eyes, but kept them closed like instructed. He wanted to open them and see exactly what was going on outside, but opening them would do her little good. There was no light, nor sound other than Sombra's voice. For her, at this very moment, there was nothing more than that.


"You look silly when you zone out like that." Diane said as she approached from behind. Sombra slowly turned to look at her.

"I-I'm simply worried about leaving. I'm terrified something bad will happen if I go..." Sombra said as he began to rethink his decision. Truth be told, he had chosen not to leave the empire since his return not because he was dead sent on only purging out the changelings, but because he had become afraid of being in a squad. He did not want to see any more comrades die.

"It's not like you to worry Sombra." Diane said as she circled him. "I'll tell you exactly what will happen. You are going to go, complete whatever mission that was assigned to you, and when you return we will celebrate Fetch's birthday."

"Right, I had almost forgotten it was in a few days."

"Yes mister soldier sir. And make sure to bring something from the battlefield. You know how much he loves those random bits of rabble you bring in saying that it was 'battle damaged'."

"I'll have you know I got those from the recon teams, I didn't make it up." Sombra replied. Soon both went into a laughing fit before finally calming down and staring at each other in the eyes with a gentle smile upon their face.

"See you soon?"


With that Sombra was off. He ran as fast as he could to his squad who was already well into the blizzard out in the outskirts. Diane stared off into the distance until Sombra was no longer in sight before shivering and letting out a strange sounding sigh. She had been holding back her own premonitions. She too felt that something terrible was on the verge of happening. And now that the empire's only changeling radar was away, he feared for the worst.

"Come back soon..." She whispered out as she turned around to head back into the empire.

Diane made her way around the now robust streets of the crystal empire. Since Sombra's ability to find changeling spies the city morale had gone up and business was booming. Every pony was happy and eager for each coming day, no longer having to fear about being some creature's lunch. Even in this pleasant atmosphere she couldn't concentrate. She knew something was up, but she just could not place a finger on it.

"Good morning Diane." A regal voice said as the mare passed by. Surprised by the sudden greeting, she jolted up only to see the Crystal Princess in front of her. "How are you this morning?"

"G-Good, how about you?" Diane responded as she bowed.

"I'm wonderful. Thank you for asking. I was wondering if you had a minute to chat?"

"Of course!" Diane said at the sudden request. She had met her a few times, but all in Sombra's presence when he was the pony in question, never had she actually spoken to her though. The mares and the princess's guards walked to Diane's home which also doubled as her workshop. It wasn't anything fancy, but it got the job done. As they entered Diane quickly blushed as she noticed how messy everything was.

She quickly got to cleaning up as the princess giggled at her actions. "Worry not, I am aware that a workshop is hard to keep clean, especially for a crystal sculptor."

"B-B-But that's no excuse when you have important guest over!"

Once Diane had 'finished' getting things tidy she also rushed to make some tea and some small snacks for the chat. All the while the princess sat at the table with a smile on her face. It was comical to see how every pony always over reacts to her company.

"Now..." Diane started as finally settled down. "What was it you wanted to talk about?"

"Oh, I just wanted to thank you." The princess said as she took a sip of her tea.

"For what?" Diane asked a little puzzled. She certainly did not remember doing anything to need a personal thanks from the princess.

"For taking in Sombra. Just look around. Without him we would already be off the map. He truly did keep his word and changed the tide of the war. And I have an itching feeling that you were part of it."


"Why yes. That stallion would move mountains for you, and given his power, I am sure he very well could. The day he bursted into the council meeting he had his mind set on ending the war on your behalf. We all owe you a great debt for believing in Sombra and taking him in."

Diane blushed the royal mare praised her. It wasn't every day that some pony saw the good she did. Sure she didn't do anything just for the attention, but when it did happen it was always a treat.The chat did not last much longer after that. Fetch came downstairs when he head voices and got to meet the princess. It was a rather homely visit with a lot of love and care in the air. After that they all quickly said their good byes and the mother and child were left alone.

"Wow. Things sure have changed haven't day?" She said as she pet Fetch on the head. "Say, do you want to bring the princess some cookies tomorrow?"


The rest of the day the two of them spent trying to perfect the art of baking. Once they got the recipe down they quickly prepared for transport and went to bed so that the next day bright and early the could deliver their gift. The night came and went and soon Diane and Fetch were on their way to the castle with a basket full of cookies to share.

Though She should be happy, again her stomach aches as the strange feeling something bad was going to happen emerged. She tried her best to hide it from Fetch as they walked. The guards recognized them and allowed them in and they soon got an audience with the princess.

"Why hello. What a lovely surprise." The princess said as she saw them walk in.

"We brought cookies!" Fetch screamed out as he ran up to her as happy as can be.

"Did you now? You shouldn't have."

"But we did, now you have to eat them!"

"Well I suppose I don't have a choice do I?" She said with a smile. It was refreshing to see them again like this for Diane. It certainly made her feel better, but not very long.

"Heheheh...Two birds with one stone?" A guard said as he walked up slowly to them, his head tilted down. "This certainly made for a grand catch." As he lifted his head his eyes glowed sickly green.

Diane quickly understood what was happening. She had lived this before. "Run! It's a changeling!" She shouted as she bolted toward her son.

"No my dear. Not a changeling. The Changeling. I am Dycus, the changeling king!"


Off in the distance Sombra and his squad were already making their way back. He had a large smile on his face as he glanced over his shoulder to see that every member of his squad was alive and well. "Just a little more and we're home." He said excitedly. Half of it was to encourage his team to continue on, the other half was because he was excited to come back after he had found a perfect present for Fetch. It was a small ruby that had come during the battle. Gem stones were rare and very valuable and he only found it because of the damage to the terrain.

"You were great Sombra!" A teammate said walked by. "You really save our necks out there."

"Couldn't let you all down now could I?" Sombra responded in a happy manner, an emotion that soon left him as they entered the empire's border. The horrid smell of a changeling was strong in the air. Without a word he took off as he followed the scent.

"It can't be!" Sombra shouted at himself as he galloped across the streets. "This scent. It's too strong to be just any old changeling's! Can't the King or Queen be here? No!" As he got closer to its source the worse things seemed. The streets were empty and not a sound was heard other than his hooves hitting the ground.

Finally he came to a stop when he came to the foot of the scrapping castle in the middle of the empire. Sombra stomped on the ground to summon out a black crystal pillar to take him all the way to the top where he entered through the balcony. What he saw tore him from the inside out. The Changeling King was just finishing off his feast on the princess with many guard laying around who tried to protect her. What was worse was when he caught a glimpse of Diane and Fetch. Their bodies limp on the ground.

"I am so sorry, you came just a little too late." Dycus taunted as Sombra remained still, his anger raising. "But I really must get going." He said as he spread his insect like wings to fly past him into the open sky, but he was quickly met by a crystal wall covering the exit. Sombra's eyes glowed in the dark room now fenced in by his wall. His purple flames erupted in his rage.

"I am going to KILL YOU!" Sombra shouted as he ran to the panicked king.

From the outside many town folk were beginning to gather around as they heard the large commotion. Guards rushed into the castle. A large explosion was seen as an entire wall of the castle blew off and a very damaged changeling tried his best fly after being hit by such a strong attack. Sombra was about to take off after him only to be stopped by a voice calling out to him.

"S-Sombra?..." Diane asked out. He suddenly did not care about Dycus as Sombra rushed over to the mare's side.

"Diane! Don't worry you'll be alright. I'm going to get you some help and-"

"No...Sombra. Fetch and I..." Diane said as she clenched her son who's breathing was very slow and only slowing down with every second.

"No, you and Fetch will be fine. I just have to get some help!" Sombra said his eyes began to blurr and a single tear fell upon Diane's face.

"Fetch and I...are so proud of you Sombra. I am happy we were able to spend these years together."


As the last remaining life force began to leave the mother and son Sombra could feel his own strength leave him. His reason for fighting was now dying along with them. The single candle that had lit his way all these years was fading right in front of him and he couldn't do anything about it.

"Make the Crystal Empire a better place...for us okay?" Diane said with her final breath. Her arm limped away from him as tears mixed with his flames and a sizzling echoed out.

"I will Diane...I will." Sombra said as he gently let her down and he stood up gazing at her with dead eyes. "But first I will put an end to this damn war." He turned to look out to the horizon. "Dycus. Prepare yourself."


Twilight finally opened her eyes. "Sombra I am so sor-" However she was frozen as she realized that having her eyes open made no difference. Things were pitch black. She slowly tried to get up and though she could feel herself standing, she couldn't even see the hoof she was holding in front of herself.

"S-Sombra?" She asked out, but no response. She was alone. She couldn't see, couldn't hear. "Sombra, where are you!?" She shouted out as she began to run forward but it made no difference. Not being able to see anything she quickly fell down as tears began to flow out of her eyes. She wasn't sure why she was crying, but she was. As her whimpering echoed into the darkness. Sombra finally stepped forward from the dark.

"Sombra!" Twilight said as she went up to him, but as she got close she slowed as he saw his fresh tears running down his face. Using his hoof, he summoned out red crystal shards between them.

"Diane...was a crystal sculptor. Her favorite kind of crystal to use was the one I made, these red shard." Sombra said as he tried to hold himself back from his emotions. "This was the anchor that kept me going for years." In an instant, the darkness around them vanished, revealing the grassland terrain once more. The sun was much too bright for Twilight's eyes as she shielded them away.

"One week Sparkle. You have one week to find your anchor." Sombra said as he slowly turned around and walked away. "Without one we cannot continue your training." He said as he made his way back to town, leaving Twilight to her thoughts and emotions. As he made it back to the library, he collapsed on the ground as he began to shed more tears.

"I'm sorry Diane...I'm so sorry..."

22. Let's Bake!

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Two days have passed since Twilight's first training in the dark arts...if you could call it that. Two days of rigorous search for her anchor and still nothing came up. She gave out a deep sigh of frustration as she leaned back on her chair. Looking at the ceiling she blow her bangs from her forehead in boredom.

"Having trouble?" Sombra asked from the other side of the library. He had taking back his habit of reading anything and everything related to Equestrian history that the last few days of 'excitement' has neglected him the opportunity to do.

"No no...okay yes." Twilight responded as she stretched out her arms and arched her back on her seat.

"Take you're time. This is a very important step in your training." Sombra said without lifting his gaze from his book. Any other time that gesture would not have bothered her, but right now, it was almost as he was mocking her when he said that.

"Didn't I only ask you to train me like the day you brought me to the field? How did you come up with a whole training schedule so fast?" Twilight asked as her annoyance escalated. Again Sombra didn't glance at her, only turned his page.

"I had been playing with the idea of teaching dark magic to some pony for a time. My mark in history if you will."

"Uh huh...and who were you planning on teaching it to? Dinky?" Twilight joked.

"...No..." Sombra said as his eyes stopped moving for the second it took for him to say it. It was subtle but the mare took quick notice of that.

"You were!" She said standing up from her chair.

"Sparkle, focus on your anchor." Sombra said as he waved a hoof at her. Twilight simply pouted as she sat back down and began to read over her journal.

Silence reigned for a while longer as both ponies read their books. It was almost a homey atmosphere where each household pony did their own thing while sharing a roof. It was something Sombra hadn't experienced in quite a while. All that was missing was a child to start crying wanting for something or other. A smile spread across his face as the thought crossed his mind, a thought that soon was interrupted by a soft knock at the door.

"I'll get it!" Spike screamed from else where in the library as he rushed over to greet the visitor. "Oh hi Pinkie!"

Sombra felt a chill go down his spine as her name was said. He had not seen her or Fluttershy since the welcome party incident and though he knew he couldn't avoid them forever, he was still not prepared face them. Sombra closed his eyes and took deep breath as he readied himself for what was to come. But as Pinkie entered the room he was suddenly confused for the usual upbeat mare was acting timid and hesitant. Sombra's purple flames flickered in response to her presence.


"Hello Pinkie." Twilight waved from her seat as she saw her friend. "What brings you here?"

"I was wondering if I could borrow Sombrie for the day."

Twilight and Sombra traded glances as Pinkie began to fidget with herself. She was Sombra's reformer, there was no need to ask for permission to take him on any trip she deemed necessary, yet here she stood asking in a shy manner. "What am I required for?" He finally asked.

"I was just wondering if you could help me make a new kind of cupcake I came up with. I need some pony to test taste it."

Without much thought Sombra began to answer. "Sure, but since I am no good at baking just let me know when you're done and-" He was, however, suddenly cut off when Twilight jerked him to the side using her magic. She sent him a glare that almost made him paranoid again.

"I think you should go with Pinkie. It will be good for you to get out of the library." She said as her smile returned to her face, but something about her expression gave him a deadly threat about denying otherwise.

"S-Sure." Sombra said getting up from his seat as he made his way over to Pinkie who had lighten back up as if whatever had troubled her had disappeared. With a nod to the mare, Pinkie began to make her way out but before Sombra could follow he was pulled by Twilight who had come close enough to whisper.

"Behave yourself." She said before going back to her reading. All Sombra could do was gulp as he began to feel out of his element once more.

The walk to Pinkie's home was the usual. Whatever was bothering her before had disappeared as she hopped along side him. It was still awkward for him to be around her, but he knew that he had to face things sooner than later.

"It's been a while since I've seen you." Sombra said as he attempted to start small talk. "For the mare responsible for my 'reformation' you seem to have left me alone. Are you perhaps saying that I am now reformed?"

"Now that you mention it..." Pinkie said as she came to a sudden stop and placed a hoof to her chin. "I'm not sure when you're done being reformed."

Raising an eyebrow Sombra continued the conversation. "So when exactly am I going to be free to go out without having an escort?"

"Don't you already leave on your own anyway?"

"I mean...officially."

"Dunno. When Discord was reformed he was presented to Princess Celestia."

"Discord? The lord of chaos from the history books?"

"Yup. He was reformed by Fluttershy." Pinkie said with a smile.

"Pray tell. How long did it take?"

"A day."

"You're joking."

Pinkie just giggled at his surprise. "No, Fluttershy has a way with animals. I'm not saying Discord is an animal, but it's pretty close. So why do you ask? Do you feel like you're reformed?" She asked as she stuck her tongue out, a teasing gesture at the still so serious stallion. But as He began to think about it, he came to halt. Looking down Sombra began to think about his 'adventures' here in Ponyville.

"No...I don't believe so." He said as he began to talk again, quickly catching up the the smiling mare. The rest of the trip was spent in joyful silence. It was almost funny for Sombra when sense of deja vu came to him. He had walked this path the day he arrived to Ponyville. A lot has happened since then.

"Well Come on in!" Pinkie shouted out as she entered Sugarcube corner, Sombra close behind. As the bells rang from the door's movement, the ponies within all glanced the duo entering to exchange a few words. Mr. Cake who was finishing a transaction waved at them in hello as they walked to the register.

"Hi Pinkie, Hi Sombra." He said as he gave his customer some change.

"Hello Mr. Cake. I'm taking Sombrie back into the kitchen so he can help me bake." She said as she passed them by, sparing a smile for him. As the orange stallion looked at Sombra to exchange glances they paused.

"Nice to see you again."

"Y-Yes. I am glad you and you're family are doing well." Sombra responded half hesitantly. This trip to Sugarcube Corner was definitely much different from before.

Trying not to think about it, Sombra continued on to the kitchen where Pinkie waited for him. A quick look around made it obvious that she had already gotten everything out. The stable was filled with all kinds of ingediants, ones he did not recognize. As he had feared, the different in their time periods was very apperant.

"That's...a lot of stuff." Sombra said, almost shocked at the large array of objects around him."

"Yup! We'll need them all if we're going to make these cupcakes." Pinkie said with a smile, her eyes sparckling as her plan began to unfold.


"So I just invite him over to bake?" Pinkie asked her friend as she went over the clipboard in front of her.

"Why of course. I am sure Sombra will have no idea of what to do and so you will have to get close to help him." Rarity said with a wink. Once you two get comfortable being close Sombra will take notice of your feminine side. What stallion wouldn't make his move?"

"I-I'm not sure about this. Sombrie doesn't seem the type to 'make a move' on a mare." She said doubtfully.

"Oh darling please. You simply have to get him to notice you, nothing more."

"If you say so..." Pinkie said as she looked down at her list of activities. "Step One."


"Time to get everything out!" Pinkie shouted as she raised a hoof in excitement. Her sudden statement made Sombra raise and eyebrow.

"This isn't everything?" He asked, gesturing at the already laid out ingredients

"All except one!" Pinkie said as she walked over to a cabinet. She got on her back legs as she reached up but the final box was just barely out of reach.

Now he'll come close, stand next to me like I am and I'll 'accidentally' fall back enough for him to hold me in his arms. Pinkie thought as she smiled to herself, her face turning slightly red at the thought of being held. To her displeasure, the box popped next to her as Sombra used his magic to lift it down, not even taking a step closer to her.

"Good, now we can begin right?" Sombra said as he inspected the recipe book and the ingredients as Pinkie pouted to herself as she held the box in her arms. She took a deep breath and slowly walked over to him.

"It's okay Pinkie, they'll be more opportunities..." She said to herself.

"What was that?"

"Nothing! Now, lets make the batter first." She said as she gave the dark stallion a bowl. "Just place everything I tell you into it."

Applejack once helped me make cupcakes, she didn't do so well in gathering the ingredients, so when I speed read through all of these things on the list Sombra won't be able to keep up. I'll have to come over and help him and once we're close he's sure to notice the new make up Rarity was nice enough to lend me.

"Ready?" Pinkie asked as she looked over at Sombra who was lifting random containers to glance at what they were.


"SugarEggsChocolatechipsBaking sodaACupOfFlourWheatGerm. Once they are all in the bowl we'll have to stir it all up nice and well. Any Questions?" Pinkie said as fast as her mouth could allow her, and for her standards, it was pretty fast. She managed to speak at about three words a second and to any pony's ears would have been impossible to understand.

"Yes, why are we using the recipe for muffins instead of cupcakes?" Sombra said as stirred the contents of the bowl with a stirring pin, all of which was floating in the air with his magic.

"Y-You managed to get everything down?!" Pinkie shouted out in a surprise.

"Of course. I read the book before we began and even though you spoke a little fast, I had already inspected the ingredients so I knew where each was. Not sure what each one does exactly or what it's used for, but if you named it, it's in here. So are we baking muffins instead?"

"...Yes." Pinkie said almost defeated by Sombra's actions. He caught a small sense of distraught in the mare as her puffy mane lost some of it's roundness, but before he could say anything she shouted out in a happy manner. "Now that we're done with this lets put them to bake!"

Pinkie was quick to get out what was still needed, mainly being the pan that was to go in the oven. She took it out and placed it on the table for Sombra to pour out the batter onto. Getting the hint, he did as he was gestured and poured the six holes on the pan. Once done she opened the oven which was already preheated and set them in to bake.

"So now we wait?" Sombra asked as he sat, staring at the muffins through the small window on the oven.

"Yup!" Pinkie replied as she came next to him to sit as well. Last chance! Now that we're alone we can get cozy together. Rarity said to act tired and to lean on his shoulder. The sudden touch of out furs will make him to glance over and he will have to say something! She thought to herself. As the final part of her plan was set into motion, the mare gently pressed her head against Sombra's soft shoulder.

The feeling of Pinkie's head on him almost made him jump, but Sombra remained composed as he glanced to his side. A smiling mare with her eyes closed was all he saw. "I'm a little tired." She said as she lazily opened one eye to speak to him.

"T-Then you should rest." He responded as he returned his gaze to the muffins, his cheeks showing a hint of pink from her show of affection. All Sombra could think about was how fast his heart was beating as the soft sound of Pinkie breathing filled the room. Pinkie herself had an accelerated heart rate. She blushed as she patiently waited for Sombra to move, speak, or do anything at all. The silence was almost choking her with anticipation.

The sound of a foal crying suddenly echoed in the kitchen. Just outside the Cakes called out to Pinkie. "Pinkie dear? Pumpkin is crying and we're having a flood of customers, can you handle it please?"

Pinkie heard something crack within her as the request reached her ears. Looking up she saw Sombra return a gaze of sadness. She wasn't sure what he was thinking about, but she wasn't allowed much time to ponder. Sombra stood up gently, leaving Pinkie down as he began to make his way over to where the crying was coming from.

"You said you're tired. You stay here and rest, I'll look after the foal." He said before leaving the room. As he left Pinkie felt herself melt into the ground.

"Darn it!" She said as she rolled around on the ground in frustration. "Everything went wrong! I told Rarity that this plan wouldn't work! I'm so stupid." Finally she came to a stop, her face staring up into the ceiling. She heard hoof steps up there, meaning Sombra had reached the children's room. "Still...It was still kinda nice having him around. No pony else had ever agreed to bake with me after the little incident with Applejack. And he tried his best to keep up with me even though he said he didn't know anything about baking..."

Pinkie's frown became a smile as she began to feel silly at how she was acting. "He's so nice to me, even letting me stay down here to rest while he took care of anything that could bother me." Pinkie jumped up on her hooves as she rushed upstairs to the foal's room only to find them sound asleep with Sombra cradling them in his magic.

"That was fast." She said with a smile, walking over and peeking over the tall stallion at the foals.

"I've picked up a few pointers from a friend." He responded, bringing the children back down to their crib. "Besides, Pumpkin seems to be quite fund of me."

"Well you did save her that night with the Ursa Major." Pinkie teased at him as they began to walk out.

"Will a day go by when I am not reminded of that time?"

"Give it a year or two." Both laughed a little as they made their way back to the kitchen where Pinkie was quick to start putting things away. She had purposely placed out more stuff than they had needed to confused Sombra, but that plan did not seem to have worked out at all. As she was putting things up she accidentally tipped over a cup, and in the great hurry to keep it from falling, she slipped and slammed her arm on the table, causing everything on the opposite end to catapult out.

Though Sombra came out unscathed, Pinkie was not so lucky. She was covered with the extra batter from the muffins. Though his first instinct was to see if she was alright, her appearance caused a chuckle to escape him.

"Are you *ahem* okay?" He asked as he come to her aid, doing his best to keep from laughing.

"I-I think so." Pinkie said as she tried to stand with Sombra's help, but to their own misfortune, Her hoof slipped on the batter now on the floor, causing the mare to pull him down with her to the ground. They took a moment to recover, but once they opened their eyes, both blushed as they realized what position they were in.

Pinkie was hard pressed against the ground under Sombra's weight, though using his front hooves to lift himself helped, they were still to the side of Pinkie who stared blankly at the stallion towering over her. They remained still they their eyes met, and though now both were covered in batter, neither noticed. All they could think about was one another's 'forced' embrace. Clearing his throat, Sombra got up and allowed the mare to do the same. They sat with their backs to one another in silence at they tried to control their blush from darkening.

"S-Sorry." Sombra finally said to break the atmosphere.

"It-It's okay, my fault..."

Again silence, but this time it was because Sombra stood up to get a towel. Not one he used on himself though, his first reaction was to clean up Pinkie who had batter all over herself, ignoring the fact he was no different. Soft giggles were heard as Sombra pressed the towel against the mare's face and made sure to get as much of the batter as he could. Finally giving her a break he paused to see how well he did.

"Pity. The batter ruined the make up Rarity gave you." He said as he continued to clean Pinkie, this time around the shoulders and neck.

"Wait! You noticed?!"

"Yes. I noticed the moment I saw you at the library."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

"I wasn't aware I was supposed to." He said as he finished cleaning her off. Pinkie took hold of the towel and threw it against his face.

"Meanie. Now it's my turn."

Sombra wanted to respond, but wasn't allowed to by the rather rough movement of the towel on him. He patiently waited for her to finish, but as soon as she pulled the towel away she went into a giggle fit.

"Pfft. Your mane!" She said as she pointed at the now very messy charcoal mane of his.

"Very funny." Sombra said as he tried to fix his mane with his hoof. As Pinkie flailed around, he noticed he had missed some batter on her face. Thinking nothing of it, he placed his hooves at Pinkie's cheeks, quickly getting her attention. He leaned close and licked the batter from nose, sending the mare into a very bright red blush.

"W-W-W-What was that for?!" She shouted out, crawling backwards as Sombra began to find the taste of the batter.

"You had some batter left on you. It's very tasty, the muffins are sure to be delicious." He said as he stood up to glance at the oven. "Think they're ready yet?"

Unable to bring herself to speak, Pinkie simply nodded a few times as she tried to bring herself under control. Sombra proceeded to to take out the pan as the smell of muffins filled the air. Pinkie's thoughts raced as she held her cheek, they memory of him holding her as he leaned close replaying in her head.

"You coming?" Sombra said as he lifted the muffins out of the pan and placed them to cool on a plate. "Let's eat them together."

"Y-Yeah..." She said, finally getting to her hooves. He didn't have a problem getting so close to me...does he me? She though as she got closer. Sombra shot her a small smile as he levitated a muffin for her to grab. Maybe...just maybe...

23. Something Unexpected

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"And then he came real close to lick some batter off my nose! For a moment I thought he was going for a kiss, but if he had done that I might have just fainted instead!" Pinkie said as she rolled around on her bed, a thick blush upon her face. "My heart was beating sooooo fast, I thought it would explode!"

"Oh darling..." Rarity began. She had come for a visit for news on any improvement between Sombra and her only to find her in a state of strange bliss. "What if Sombra meant nothing more than to get the batter off of you?"

"Well duh! I know he wouldn't actually kiss me. But I still think things went well...considering."

"Considering what dear?"

"That each and everything you wanted me to do backfired."

A look of horror befell the white mare's expression as she backed into a wall. "Impossible! Those acts and stunts work for every stallion."

"Except that you forgot about Sombra being a unicorn, so he didn't need to get close to give me something out of reach...and he reads at lightning speed so he didn't need my instructions for the batter...and that he noticed the make up since I first saw him at the library. Which, by the way, he knew you had given me. He apparently has a very good sense of smell and said I had the scent of your boutique so he knew you helped me put it on."

Rarity placed a hoof to her chin as she paced around Pinkie's room. "Well, I suppose that plan was for the average stallion, and as we've just witnessed he isn't the average stallion. I need to do more research. What about the last point on the checklist?"

"Oh, you mean leaning on him? Sombrie didn't seem to mind. He let me lean on him until the foals began crying, then he left saying that since I was tired I should just rest."

"Hmm..." Rarity hummed out as her mind tried to place the pieces together. Darling, I know this might sound weird, but what if Sombra is one of those stallions?"


"You know, the nice guys that do gentlemanly things but only because it's in their nature? What if he is just a nice guy and doesn't really have feelings for any pony?"

Pinkie's mane lost some of it's puffiness as she began to think about what was said to her. "S-So what would that mean?"

"It means that he is nice to all mares, not just those he is interested in."

"And that means?..."

"That we have to do a little experiment!"


Sombra stood up from his desk. Finally tired out of reading, he let out a groan as he popped his back to alleviate some tension. He was finally done, finally done catching up with history and now knew of all the events from a thousand years ago until now. That being said, he seemed to have run into one thing constantly. The victory over evil by six unlikely mares. He must admit, they seemed to be very good at turning things around at the last second to save the day.

A quick glance outside later and Sombra knew that he had stayed up a tad bit too late, he had lost track of time doing what he hoped to be his last study session. Tired from being still, he decided to roam the library a little to just stretch his legs. Stepping out of his room, he noticed the dim light of candles that vaguely illuminated a desk not too far away. Spike had fallen asleep during some record keeping and was now snoring away at the desk. Sombra let out a soft sigh as he walked over to the drake. Using his magic he used a curtain as an improvised blanket and covered the assistant.

"Wow, never thought I'd see the day." Twilight said as she stepped close. She had Spike's own cover from his bed which she was going to use to cover him up.

"My apologies, I did not know you were getting the dragon a blanket."

"No no, it's quite alright." She said as she placed the cover to the side in a neat folded manner. "I was actually just passing by, still doing some reading on my journal."

"The one you share with your friends?"


"Still no luck with your anchor?"

"No..." Twilight responded, lowering her head as she felt ashamed of not being able to find something worthy of her anchor. Her deadline was coming and as a student, she did not want to be late with an assignment, especially the very first one.

"Chin up Sparkle." Sombra said as he began to walk passed her. "All in due time."

"But that's just it! It's almost due!"

Sombra sighed as he began to recall the stories he heard of this rather studious mare. "Alright, perhaps that was poor word choice on my part." He said as he turned around to calm Twilight "All I am trying to say is that these things can't be forced. Just allow your anchor to come to you, if you focus on finding it you'll miss what's right in front of you."

"R-Right, sorry. I was just so excited to learn more magic that I got so frustrated that I am being held back by my own short comings."

Sombra placed a hoof to the princess's shoulder. "Patience. One will stumble if you begin to run in the dark. One hoof at the time." He said before making his way back to his room, leaving the poor mare to her own thoughts. Once he closed the door behind him he let go of the air he had been holding in his chest, a loud sigh was heard echo in his room.

"That mare is too interested in the dark arts. Perhaps I should pay a visit to some pony who has more experience teaching her." Sombra's thought immediately went to Celestia, whom in his head held a very sly smirk upon her face. "I'd rather not actually...." He closed his eyes and allowed his body to drape down on the floor while his back slid on the door he was leaning on. Opening his eyes he saw his bed.

"Hmm, I really shouldn't take any chances though." He said before beginning to make his way to his comfortable sheets. As he walked he used his magic to undress, each clothe piece quickly and gently being pulled off one by one and neatly set in his closet, a routine he had come to do every single night and could now be repeated with ease. He climbed into bed and closed his eyes.

One thousand years trapped in ice means that there isn't much to do except sleep. That being said, Sombra had become very good at manipulating his dreams. He could, on a whim, fall asleep whenever he wanted, like wise, he could begin to dream whenever he wanted. It was a skill he developed over time in his imprisonment. That doesn't mean he can't have nightmares or dream randomly, but when he did, once he realized he was dreaming he could take back control and change any aspect he wanted.

His eyes shut, Sombra forced himself to sleep and dream. Like all dreams he consciously began, he found himself in a white empty space. Like an empty canvas he could paint at will. With a glance Sombra began to change his surroundings to something more familiar, the library he currently resided at. Once all the furniture were created he began to manifest something to pass the time, and like any royalty of the ages passed, he made tea to drink. Sitting down at the table nearby he sipped away at the tea as he waited.

"Does thou realize manipulation of dreams is Our domain?" A rather cranky voice said. With a smirk Sombra responded.

"How else would I get your attention?" He said, gesturing her to sit down.

"Thou could have simply called out to Us." Luna said as she sat down across from Sombra. He offered her a cup which she took just as quickly.

"Though We have to admit, thou art excellent at manipulating dreams."

"A thousand years of practice." Luna giggled slightly at his acute response. If it was one thing they shared, it was a thousand years of boredom.

"What did thou wish to speak to Us about?"

"Princess Luna, I know-"

"Simply Luna is fine." She interrupted.

"Yes well, Luna, I know that I have been asking a lot of you lately, but I was wondering if you could humor me once more."

"Ask and We shall make it so."

Sombra gave the princess a soft smile as he requested something of her. It was rather nice to have some pony always looking out for him. Other than Pinkie, Luna had been a constant presence in his early days of reformation. Again, like Pinkie he had thought of her as a nuisance, now as a good friend. After the request was made they spent what was left of the night simply talking and catching up. A good conversation with a friend, most of the subject was how they both seemed to have a hard time getting up to date with modern times.


Sombra slowly opened his eyes, letting out a yawn as he sat up on his bed. Morning had come, and with it, his plan from the previous night. He quickly stood up and get dressed. Something that took little time for the rehearsed routine of his. Sombra wanted nothing more than to get out of the library as quickly as he could. He did not want anything to interrupt him from to the train station. But as luck would have it, as soon as he placed a hoof outside of his room he heard laughter from many different voices, one of which he could not recognize.

"Okay Twilight, everything is spotless now!" Shouted Spike as he passed by Sombra to get back to where the group was, but he was jerked to the side by the dark stallion.

"Spike, who is in the library this early in the morning?" Sombra asked rather worried that his request from the previous night might have been turned upside down by Celestia once again.

"You don't know? Celestia said you wanted to talk to her so she came in person."

"What?! Luna for tartarus sake can you please stop reporting everything I ask of you to your sister?" Sombra said as he slammed a hoof to his forehead.

"We apologize, We did not think it agitated thou so." Luna said as she walked to where the guys stood. The sudden appearance of the princess took Sombra by surprise as he stared blankly at her.

"Luna? You are here too?"

"Why yes, We wished to see thou in person, and since sister was paying thou a visit We thought We could accompany her."

Sombra took a moment to take in everything that was happening. He let out a sigh and gestured Spike and Luna to take him to the meeting place. With a content smile the princess and drake led him to the main room of the library were Twilight and Celestia were talking at a table.

"So sorry you had to see the library so messy." Twilight apologized.

"Not at all Twilight, though I suppose that anything even a little out of place would be messy for you." Celestia teased, causing the purple mare to laugh nervously. Despite being of the same rank now, Twilight still saw Celestia as her teacher and mentor and still got nervous around showing her anything other than perfection.

As the trio began to come into view, Celestia's gaze quickly met Sombra's. "Sombra! So good to see you again."

"L-Likewise." Sombra responded. It was one thing to have townsfolk act friendly towards him, but another thing entirely for the sun goddess to act as if they were old friends.

"So I heard there was something you wished to discuss with me?" Celestia said as she stood up to greet Sombra.

"Yes, though as I had told Luna last night..." Sombra began by throwing a glance to the night princess who only blushed in embarrassment for a second. "I would prefer to have a one on one conversation in private."

Twilight leaned out of her chair and raised an eyebrow to Sombra as he spoke to her teacher.

"Yes of course, we could go for a walk and speak if you wish."

"What of Us? Surely thou do not expect Us to stay put while thou goes on a morning stroll."

"I am sorry Luna but-"

"You're right little sister." Celestia interrupted Sombra. She quickly turned to Twilight. "Say, how many of your friends are free this morning? We could all meet up and have a day out."


"I think I can get a hold of every pony, I'm sure they'd be happy to come along!" Twilight said happily.

"I'll make the sandwiches!" Spike shouted out as he ran to the kitchen.

"How pleasant! We have not had a 'get together' in ages!" Luna said excitedly.

Sombra sighed. He gave up. He knew how that the mares got rolling it nothing would stop them. He had no choice but o simply go with it. As he found a seat to use Celestia poked him with a hoof to get his attention.

"Don't look so glum, we'll have plenty of time to speak, but it isn't everyday that one can make more friends."

"Why are you so obsessed with me making friends?"

"I once met a powerful unicorn who would not acknowledge the magic of friendship and he died not being able to complete his masterpiece spell. I simply do not wish for others to go down his path."

"Yes well, I am no normal unicorn."

"Neither was he." Celestia said with a wink. Sombra sighed as he brushed off her words.

What exactly is she thinking? Sombra asked himself. He just could not fathom it. There was no helping it though, what was done was done, what came next was simply another trail for him to surpass. And as Celestia as his witness, quite literally, he was going to surpass it.

24. Things Get Complicated

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"So do you think you can make it?" Twilight asked her friend a Celetia maintained herself in the background, gazing at the peaceful scenery of the outside of the boutique.

"Why of course darling." Rarity responded almost immediately. "Is every pony else going?"

"Well I asked Fluttershy and she agreed, haven't spoken to Pinkie, Applejack, or Rainbow Dash yet."

"Perfect, I can go get Pinkie and you can just focus on Applejack and Rainbow."

"Are you sure? I was hopping we could all just meet up with Sombra and Luna together."

"Nonesense, it would save time for all of us and isn't that what we want? As much time together as possible?"

"Well I suppose you're right..." Twilight agreed reluctantly, though she couldn't exactly refuse with her friend already pushing her out. As Twilight saw her friend run off in the direction of Sugarcube corner she rejoined the sun goddess whom was quietly observing a small flower. "Jeez, it sure seems like Rarity is in a hurry to get every pony there..."

"Don't worry, we'll see her again soon enough, how about we go to your other friends to see if they want to come along too?"

Twilight nodded to Celestia's gentle toned request. As they headed off she couldn't shake the feeling that something was about Rarity. The white mare, on the other hand, couldn't be more ecstatic. She rushed over to Pinkie's home, the plan conjuring in her head couldn't be more perfect.

"Pinkie? Are you there?" Rarity asked out to her friend's window. Sure enough a puffy maned mare poked her head out to the sound of her name.

"Oh hi Rarity!" She answered back with a smile. "What brings you here?"

"Why don't you come down and I'll explain on the way."

"On the way? Where are we going?" The pink mare asked as she began to make her way out. It did not take long for her to navigate her homes interior and quickly make it outside to talk face to face with Rarity.

"We're going to perform that little experiment I was talking to you about."


Picnics. It seems that Sombra's life has been revolving around these outside lunch events quite a lot these past few days, probably more than he'd ever think he's ever take part of. A groan escaped him as the cloud that had been blocking the sun from his visions slowly moved away, placing the dark stallion back in the heat of day.

"Thou art not a fan of the sun?" Luna asked as she took a sip of her drink.

"As cliche as it might sound, no, I am not. I spent most of my time in darkness and I had hoped to keep it that way."

"Surely thou jest? Thou art reformed now are thou not?"


The answer caused the moon goddess to look at him in confusion. "But thou doth not seem interested in causing chaos."

"Nor do I feel compelled to do good either."

"Fair assumption. Still, thou hast taken a step forward in reformation."

"My question is, does Equestria really need a mage of the dark arts? Seems counter intuitive to have one such as me around if peace and harmony is what you're after."

"We have no answer that may satisfy thee, We fear."

"No pony does, don't worry about it."

Sombra took a sip of his own drink as the duo sat in silence. Currently, they had been left behind while Twilight and Celestia rounded up the elements of harmony for their little get together. He wasn't particularly interested in socializing, but it seems that the sun goddess had no intention of allowing him to disengage from other ponies like he had liked. He has had nothing but a headache anytime she had gotten involved in anything he wanted, she always seemed to twist it in strange ways.

"Doth thou have something on thine mind?"

"Just dreading the event to come."

"Thine horrors are ill placed. Twilight Sparkle's friends are plenty 'fun', thou shall see."

Sombra sighed. "But all I wanted to do was speak to Celestia about Sparkle, this whole event seems like a waste of time."

"Our sister doth have a 'one track mind', once she is set on a goal she shall not give up on it."

"And what, pray tell, is her goal?"

"Thine reformation."

Sombra planted his hoof between his eyes as an annoyed expression befell him. "Doth she really need to do this?" Sombra said, but quickly shut his mouth as he realized he accidentally mimicked Luna's speech pattern, causing her to giggle.

"It seems We have an influence on thee."

"Yeah well, it can't be helped when we spend most nights together."

"Thou should watch thy tongue, such a statement is awfully suggestive."

"Oh please, we're alone right now, be sure that I would watch my word choice much more when the 'guests' arrive. I have no intention of making the hole I've dug myself into any larger."

Again Luna giggled. "Hole? Thou art strange indeed."

Sombra turned his head in annoyance. His patience had already been running low and the constant tease was no helping his mood. "I've heard that statement many a times in my life time."

Again the retreated to silence as they waited for their friends. Though Sombra had to admit, if he had to stay trapped in constant conversation with some pony, he'd much rather it be Luna than any pony else. After all, she was the first pony to try to help him while under the heavy influence of his dark magic.

Sombra sniffed the air around him, raising his nuzzle as he did. His strange gesture made the princess giggle.

"What art thou doing?"

Sombra looked around but couldn't place the direction of the scent around him. "Nothing...I just smell vanilla." He said, giving up on his search. It wasn't necessarily a top priority for him right now, especially not if it wasn't the stench of a changeling.

"Thou hast a sensitive snout?"

"I trained myself to be perceptive of smells. It's come in handy plenty of times in the past."

Accepting his answer, Luna dropped the subject. Though it would seem like a strange skill to develop for a modern day pony, this was surely something she could relate to from a thousand years ago. They remained in silence once more but Sombra couldn't shake the feeling that they were being watched.

"How peculiar..." Rarity said to herself as she and Pinkie hid in a bush a few yards away. Using binoculars to spy on Sombra and Luna, they observed their interactions.

"Whats so strange about that?" Pinkie asked, putting down her binoculars. "It just looks like they're just sitting down talking."

"Can't you see it? Sombra and Princess Luna have perfect chemistry." Rarity said as she began to look at detailed hints of her statement. "They both seem enjoy each other's company and despite their rather different personalities, they seem to be rather okay with each other's presence. I'm afraid that perhaps you might have more competition than you think."

Rarity's statement did nothing to build confidence in the pink mare's heart. As she heard her words she could feel a small constriction in her chest over the stallion sitting next to what most would consider the 'perfect mare.' After all, who wouldn't jump at the chance to be with a princess?

Sombra once again raised his head, this time for a slightly different reason. His eyes sparked in small purple blazes as he felt some pony's fear feed his power. The strange flames upon her friend's face made the princess give him a puzzled look.

"Doth thou realize thine face is set ablaze?" She asked at the rather come stallion in front of her despite the strange burns at his eyes.

"Don't you remember? These flames are fed on fear and hatred, some pony nearby must be feeling pretty afraid right now..." Sombra said as he began to stand up.

"We presume thou wish to find the source?"

"For curiosity sake, yes." He said as he began to walk off in the direction be thought the pony whom was so afraid was in.

"We shall accompany te." Luna shouted as she began to catch up to Sombra. "We would rather not stay alone for the duration of thy adventure."

"Please, it should not take very long."

Sombra and Luna began to make their way into the woods nearby and they walked, a strange array of smells filled the stallion's nostrils. He kept his comments to himself for courtesy sake, but he couldn't help but feel there was something awfully familiar about the smell. As he had expected, once he had reached the origin of the fear he consumed, no pony was there. He surveyed the area as a soft hum escaped him in.

"Something of interest?"

"Yes..." Sombra responded as he knelt down to touch at the dirt. "Still warm, some pony had been sitting here." He looked up over the bush and noticed that the picnic blanket off in the distance. "Looks like we've been watched..."

"Were we now? Doth thou hold a secret admirer?"

Sombra's mind quickly ran to the image of Pinkie and Fluttershy and his eyes narrowed in annoyance as he finally connected the dots. "I certainly hope not...."

With that their small trip was over and they decided to head back to the picnic area only to find that they suddenly had some company. Sombra remained stoic as the sun goddess and the elements of magic and kindness waited for them at their former location.

"My my, a young health stallion and a beautiful mare walking out of the woods like that would give somepony the wrong impression." Sombra heard somepony say....a male voice. A sudden feeling of alarm befell him a he searched the area for the one who spoke.

"Oh Discord, leave them alone, I am sure it isn't what you're implying." Fluttershy said out, but as far as Sombra could see, to an invisible being.

"Discord?" He asked himself out loud. Suddenly he felt a claw at his shoulder as a draconequus materialized from thin air. Sombra jumped to the side as muscle memory took over him, suddenly taking a defensive stance.

"Oh my, did I startle you?" Discord asked with a grin on his face. Sombra did his best to regain his composure as he began to stand at ease, but the sight of such a mix matched creature didn't allow him that luxury. He didn't respond, but that didn't stop Discord to continue the conversation. "How I've been wanting to meet you King Sombra."

"I am no longer a king." Sombra said as he tried to walk past the draconequus, but Discord would not have it as he twisted his thing dragon body to coil around Sombra and once again stand in front of the dark stallion.

"Yes yes, taken down by the lovely elements of harmony, no?"

"No, it was the power of the Crystal heart."

"Of course of course, like Chrysalis right? Love sent you flying away. Speaking of which, didn't the queen of the changelings pay you a visit?" Discord said as he placed his head inches away from Sombra's with a sly expression on it. Sombra pushed him back with his hoof and replied.

"Yes, what's your point?"

"No point at all, just trying to get to know you!" Discord said as he disappeared as if he was just popped like a balloon only too 're-pop' into existence behind Sombra as he picked him up in a hug. "After all, we reformed baddies need to stick together."

Sombra did not hesitate to summon a crystal pillar behind him, quickly slipping from Discord's grip, leaving him hugging the pillar instead as the dark stallion stood on top of it. Discord did not have time to react before the pillar grew spikes that would have impaled him had he not twisted his long limps and thin body to avoid the sharp skewers.

"Woah woah woah, that could have seriously hurt me!" Discord proclaimed as he slithered away as a snake before turning back to 'normal' a few feet away. "Why would you do that?"

"Sombrie doesn't like hugs." A peppy voice stated from the distance. Pinkie and Rarity were coming close to the picnic area with a box of sweets on hoof.

Everypony greeted each other in a cheerful manner and once all the hugs were made, Twilight spoke up.

"I thought you two were going to get here before us." She said as she looked over at what the duo were carrying.

"I know dear, but Pinkie Pie wanted to bring some cupcakes for all of us, after all, it has been so long since we've all hung out together." Rarity said with a smile.By this time Sombra had retracted his pillar and was on ground level.

"Thou hast something against hugs?" Luna asked as she come close by to the stallion brushing off his suit, the jacket a little wrinkled by Discord's grip.

"I simply do not feel comfortable getting 'hugged'."

While everypony else had gathered around Pinkie to get a cupcake from here and Rarity, Sombra and Luna remained back a few feet to converse, nothing against the sweet being given out, but simply did not want to be part of the group ganging up for a mere cupcake. Pinkie glanced to see them speaking calmly and her smile lost some of its curve.

They DO seem to have good chemistry.... Pinkie thought to herself as she put up a facade while every pony grabbed one of her homemade sweets. Rarity noticed her friend's ever so subtle change in attitude and began to think to herself. Finally, after the group thinned out, the dark duo came up to Pinkie for their share.

Sombra made eye contact as he spoke to the pink mare. "So, you made these just now?" He asked as he used his magic to grab one.

"Y-Yeah." Pinkie said, trying her best to remain her happy self despite how close her crush was to Princess Luna whom did not seem to mind having her wing brush against Sombra.

"I see, you should invite me next time, it was fun last time we baked." He said as he took a bite from the cupcake. He turned around and began to make his way back to the blanket that had been laid down on the ground for their convenience.

The cupcake isn't warm, it was not freshly made...Pinkamena still has a strong scent of vanilla on her...she was the one spying on me. Sombra thought as he tried to paste the clues together. But why did the flames of fear spark? Could it be the loophole I found? But what is Pinkamena afraid of? He laid down on a small corner of the blanket, with every pony else already immerced in conversation around him he was left alone to his own thoughts, that is until Luna came by next to him as she sat at his side. Sombra's eyes widened as a surge of some pony's fear came over him...Pinkie's fear Don't tell me...Pinkamena is jealous of Luna? Sombra asked himself as he turned to look at the moon goddess eating away at her sweets.

"Tartarus damn it..." Sombra said softly to himself.

25. Things Go To Tartarus

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Every mare was currently sitting in a circle as they each spoke about news in their lives, so mostly gossip. No pony had really set it up, they all just sort of circled around on their own, even the princesses. For Sombra who was definitely not used to this much social interaction, he simply stayed back a few feet and looked at the crowd of mares talking.

"Mares, they can go on for hours, am I right?" Discord asked, again floating around Sombra as if swimming in the air. The dark stallion sighed and figured it best to humor the draconequus in his friendship.

"I would not know, I do not exactly spend a lot of time with mares."

"Liar." Discord teased as he maneuvered his way around Sombra without touching him but just close enough to bother him. "Fluttershy has told me all about your little misadventure here in Ponyville and I must say, not even I wouldn't have thought of doing half the stunts you pulled!"

"Spare me the lecture." Sombra said turning away.

"You misunderstand, I am praising your work! Seriously though, you must have got it rough, I suppose now that another has been reformed I can compare mine and say it wasn't so bad."

"I am not reformed." Sombra responded almost spiteful. He wasn't sure why it was bothering him so much that every pony kept commenting on how much more 'good' he was. Even he would say he was reformed, but somewhere deep in his heart told him otherwise. He wasn't there, wasn't good.

"Sorry Ah'm late ya'll!" Applejack shouted out as she ran over to the group of mostly mares all enjoying the sun and basking in each other's company.

"It's no problem at all." Twilight responded as she waved at her friend whom was joining them.

"Ah was just caught up on some chores, finished as quick as Ah could to get here."

"Don't worry dear Applejack." Discord said as he found a new pony to mess with. "You haven't missed much at all, it's been all talk and gossip." He said as he 'swam' her way, causing the mare to narrow her eyes in annoyance.

"Who invited Discord?"

"I did." Fluttershy proclaimed with a gentle smile, oblivious to the tone of grimace her friend projected. "He was visiting when Twilight came over so I decided to bring him along."

"Goodie..." Applejack said as she came close to the group to join in their chat. As Discord made his way back to the only other male in the group, Sombra began to count.

"One...two...three.......five?" He said as he counted off the elements. "Where is the sixth element of harmony?" Sombra asked the Draconequus who could only answer with a shrug.

"You mean Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked out, overhearing Sombra. "She had some stuff to do with the Wonderbolts so she's out of town."

"I see, I remember reading about these 'Wonderbolts.' Created soon after the Banishment of Nightmare moon, no? I'm surprised to see how quickly every pony race responded to the call as the E.U.P Guard."

"We were not so surprised. We did almost become the cause of a catastrophe."

"Still, the crystal guards had few recruits whom most almost felt like they had to join, not out of choice or some sort of morality."

"Simply put, you relationship with a guard force was that of survivalbility and necessity, the E.U.P. was born for a sense of security. Quite different if thou asks Us."

"I suppose you have a point..."

As Luna and Sombra continued their conversation, every pony listened in, all except Rarity whom had ignited the seed of suspicion in Pinkie. That is not to say it was without cause, clearly they had something going on. Looking around, the white mare quickly and quietly made her way to the lord of chaos himself. Whispering, he called out to him.

"Discord?" A hushed Rarity asked out only a few inches away from the rather bored Draconequus. Without so much as a word, Discord grew another arm, grabbing a hold of Rarity and teleporting both of them away, leaving behind stuffed animal replicas of each to 'fill in' for them. Being in the back of the crowd, they did their job.


"Yes Rarity?" Discord asked as he set the mare down, a silly grin on his face. Surprised by being suddenly snatched away, She looked around anxiously at her new surroundings. A wave of hot air hit her face as she saw that thick brown stone surrounded them as well as notice that the ground she was standing on was slowly moving and shifting.

"Wh-Where are we?!"

"A top a volcano of course!" He replied as a burst of hot steam divided them, causing the mare to become even more frightened.

"And why are we here?!" She shouted out as she tried to find balance on a block of stone which was floating in the pit of lava.

"Huh, good question." Discord said as he took a thinking pose. "I suppose this heat is bad for one's mane."

"You think?!"

Finding some twisted pleasure in seeing her so worked up, Discord smiled as he snapped his fingers, causing them to be transported once more. "How about this then?" Discord asked as he sat down at Rarity's fine and rather expensive dining table.

"Are we at my boutique?" Rarity asked as she looked around at the familiar scene.

"Where else would you feel more at home?"

"Haha, very funny..." She responded as annoyance bled through her expression.

"Now my dear, what is it that you wanted to talk about? This wouldn't have anything to do with how Sombra is getting so much attention from the princesses would it?" Discord asked as a monocle and top hat appeared on him along with a cup and tea pot which he began to serve himself upside down.

"No. Well I suppose yes, but it's-"

"More complicated?" He asked, raising an eyebrow at the suddenly rather interesting subject. Rarity sighed as she brought up the courage to ask Discord of all ponies for a favor."

"Discord, I know we haven't exactly seen each other eye to eye..." She began. Discord took the opportunity to pop his head off and stare blankly at Rarity whom did her best to ignore his antics. "But I would like you're help with something..."

"I don't know Rarity, I usually only do favors for Fluttershy, not that she ever asks for any, but I just can't go around doings favors willy nilly." He said as he went back to drinking his tea in a 'sophisticated' manner.

"Fluttershy likes Sombra." Rarity said bluntly, getting the draconequus's attention quickly as he spat out his tea.


"Yes, and like a good friend I wanted to know if Sombra is a good fit friend." She said, stretching her statement to make it truthful but still on par with her ultimate goal in mind. "So I wanted to know if perhaps I could get your help in getting Sombra into some...questionable situations where we can see where his real intentions hide, hmm?"

"Why yes of course! I will not let anypony break my dear Fluttershy's heart!" Discord declared as he snapped his fingers, causing them to teleport back to the picnic, the ponies none the wiser at their little chat.

"Futher more I think that perhaps if the E.U.P. placed a little more emphasis on actual 'guarding', most of the events where the elements where needed would not have come up." Sombra said, getting about half of the ponies around him to nod in agreement.

"Buuuuuut~" Discord said as he began to coil around Sombra, still keeping safe distance from actually touching the stallion. "Then these lovely mares would not have learned all that they did."

"Discord speaks truth, each challenge hast helped them grow two fold." Luna agreed, once again taking the opposite stand as Sombra as they have the entire conversation and though he wasn't present at the time, Discord could feel a certain tension building between the two.

A plan soon began to pop in his head as Discord sought to play Devil's advocate, just making sure both sides had more pressure to continue the debate. "Still Princess Luna, don't you think you and your sister have been putting too much strain on these youngings? Surely you understand the dangers of allowing them try to save the day all on their own."

"Yes, back in my kingdom, the common folk should never have to concern themselves with the security of their life style."

"Still, these aren't just any ponies right? These are the elements of harmony." Discord continued to poke at them.

"Doubly true! We declare them more than capable of assisting in the salvation of their home."

"Assistance is one thing, but they seem to have been in the front line each and every time." Sombra responded, both he and Luna basically inches away as they stared down at each other's eyes. "When I was king I was the one leading my army into battle, not the other way around."

"Art thou implying We lack leadership?"

"No, I am simply saying your tactics aren't very safe for your citizens."

At this point Luna and Sombra were clashing horns as the mares around them gave worried expressions. Applejack waved her hooves as she tried to gesture them to calm down, but neither one paid her much mind.

"Now now. I think this might have been taken a step too far." Celestia said as she tried to intervene. As she spoke both of the clashing forces turned their leers at her, making her feel a chill go down her spine.

"Quiet sister, We are trying to defend our honour!"
"You've no room to speak when you're the pony behind most of the mishaps in Equestria as of late." Both of them said. Celestia felt a large drop of sweat slide down her head as she slowly back away, allowing them to continue their rebuttal.

"Still thy tongue, thou shalt not speak to Our sister in such a manner."

"Well excuse me princess, but I find it had to hold back when my own experience have showed me otherwise."
The ponies around them began to quiver as each one began to raise their voice ever so slightly with each statement.

"Thou is not excused! We shall make Our point clear before this is over!"

"Your point is plenty clear! And clearly you lack strategy in war tactics!"

"Would thou like to place thy magic where thy tongue stands?!" Luna shouted out in her Canterlot Voice.

"Gladly!" Sombra shouted out, though not as loud but equally confident.

Both of them jumped back a few feet as they took a battle like stance, each building up their magic in their horns but neither making a move. The atmosphere around them was tensing up as the ground and dirt shifted around with the auras clashing at their center. Both were plotting out their own strategy in their heads. Every possible outcome with every possible counter to each, perhaps one of the most intense chess matches either had ever taken part of.

Discord looked pleased with his work, not that he did much anyway. Still, it was missing just one final icing on the cake. He looked around as he thought about what he could do to spice thing up just a few degrees more to something more peaceful, after all, all he wanted was a disagreement, not a war. He snapped his fingers and stood back as his magic began to unfold and something neither parties could ever anticipate happened.

The ground beneath them began to crumble as a the once firm earth caved in under the weight of the ponies. To Sombra, it was no cause for concern as a simple crystal pillar kept him from falling into the rubble forming beneath them, as for every pony else, they each took to the air as most of them had wings, and Rarity and Applejack who to did not, were held up by the joint efforts of Twilight and Fluttershy. Still, one scream of surprise did not let up.

"Help!" Pinkie shouted out as she began to fall into the forming crater. Both of the alicorn princesses whom were free to help began to make their way to her in an effort to help, but something moved much faster than either of them could. Both stopped mid flight as they saw a jet of black smoke maker it's way to the falling mare.

"Diane!" Sombra cried out as he materialized himself into a stallion again to grab a hold of Pinkie. He proceeded to wrap himself around her as he did his best to keep himself between her and the falling debris.

The noise of falling rocks soon died out and with it brought the shouts of every pony as they called out to the buried duo. They all placed their hooves to the dirt as they did their best to begin their excavation of their friends, even Rarity joined in.

"Leave this to me!" Discord shouted as he held out his arm and snapped his fingers, causing the debris to turn into balloons and confetti, quickly revealing the duo, with Sombra holding himself up with what strength he still had left. Pinkie stared up at him, and though last time they were in such a position they were both flushed at the face, this time neither had a hint of it, instead they both had a mutual concern for one another.

"Are you okay Pinkamena?" Sombra asked as he sat back, allowing the mare to pull herself up from the ground.

"Am I okay? What about you!? Are you okay!?" She said as she came close to the hurting stallion.

"Never better."

"Oh my goodness! Are you sure? That looked like it hurt." Fluttershy added as she flew down to check on them.

"I've had worse."

"That ain't the point, ya'll could have been seriously hurt!"

"Goodness yes, what happened exactly?"

"We believe it might have been Our fault." Luna said as she flew down with her sister. "We took the debate too far. We apolgize, We did not intend for this event to unfold."

"It is as much my fault as it is your's, Luna." Sombra said, brushing off some dust from his head. "I said something things I shouldn't have."

"Please, allow Us to make up for this incident." Luna pleaded.

"No need."


"Oh Jeez!" Discord suddenly interjected. "First you two couldn't stand each other now you're all lovey dovey and apologetic, get a room."

Sombra's expression, though stoic on the outside, was nothing like it on the inside. He threw a quick glance at Pinkie who was still clinging on to him from their spot on the ground as he began to think of something to say before things became more complicated.

"N-No, I've no interest in mares at the moment." He said, trying to loosen the topic that was soon to ensue.

"Wait, WHAT!?" Rarity shouted out, as she quickly closed the distance between Sombra and herself. "Are you saying you go for the other team?!" She said, implying something that he was not too eager to hear.

"Is that why you've been spendin' so much time with mah big brother?!" Applejack accused.

"No! You've got it all wrong! I've simply not....looking for a relationship!" He shouted, trying to mend what was too far broken to mend. Sombra looked down at Pinkie whom had large almost teary eyes, then to Fluttershy whose expression was none the better, and finally at Twilight who shot daggers from her glare.

"Damn it, no, I didn't mean that either it's just..." Sombra said, shaking his hooves around, his composure all but lost at this point. Finally, he used his magic to pull Discord's head by his white beard so they might stare face to face at each other. the Draconequus give a cheekish smile as he began to sweat from the death stare Sombra was giving him. "If I were to kill you now, would any pony miss you?"

"Fluttershy wouldn't make Fluttershy sad now would you?"

"I am seriously considering it."

"Now now, I think every pony has learned a valuable lesson today." Celestia said as she stepped close to lighten the atmosphere. The familiar tone and statement seemed to have made every pony calmer, even just a little. "How about we all go inside and get ourselves something to eat? It seems that the collapse of ground left our lunch in ruins." She said with a gentle smile.

Slowly every pony began to agree with her, and soon stood at ease as they prepared to make their way back home. Sombra let go of Discord and took a few deep breaths as he regained his stoic nature. He looked around at every pony whom had all lost interest in the rather strange conversation and he smiled to himself.

"I hate picnics." He said, his smile contradicting his statement.

26. Finally They Talk

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Sombra looked intently at the scene before him. Mares, not just any mares, but royal mares, were eating in such a strange manner. Before him sat the royal sisters and Twilight Sparkle whom were all enjoying what they called 'a hay burger.' With each bite they took their face would get smudged with a condiment they called 'ketchup'. It was almost like he was having a terrible dream where the world was upside down.

"Not gonna eat?" Twilight asked him, his tray of food still untouched.

"Umm, not very hungry..." Sombra responded. Truth is, he was starving, but like any time he ate out with a group, he would wait to see how the meal was eaten lest he made a fool of himself. What he never expected was to find that his particular meal was to be devoured like if a carnivore.

"Yar gonna need your strength if yar gonna heal up from what happened earlier." Applejack said as she spoke with her mouth full. It was not a good show of manners to say the least.

"Yes...well." He said, looking at Twilight gobbling down her food. His expression became one of grimace as he imagined himself having to mimic her eating habits to 'fit in'. "I heal fast. I'm already back to normal." He said, rotating his arm showing his full range of motion.

"That must come in real handy I bet." Discord said as he gentle grabbed a hold of his arm, with a light pinch of his index and thumb, probably the only creature who could pull it off at the moment.

"Yes, plenty of times." Sombra responded as he pulled away, leaving Discord with a jester like smile, only thinking of other ways to bother the stallion.

"So Sombra, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?" Celestia asked, using a napkin to become more presentable.

"Like I said, I wanted to speak to you in private."

"And just what is so private anyway?" Twilight asked, still not liking how Sombra wanted some alone time with her previous teacher. She did not think he wanted to court her, but was simply bothered by the secrecy.

Sombra sighed and looked down as he began to think through his words, but really, only one word needed to be spoken. "Anchor." He said, raising his head and staring back at Twilight. The purple mare felt her heart sink at the word, quickly growing quiet from her previous bravado.

Celestia gave him a confused look that was only met with a gesture to follow him. Sombra led the sun goddess away a few yards which was only to the edge of their new picnic area. As the two spoke, Twilight's friends all looked at the troubled expression she wore.

"Everything alright Sugarcube?"

"What's this 'anchor' that seems to have you all upset dear?"

Applejack and Rarity asked as their friend pondered whether to tell them or not. "It's um, something I need to learn dark magic."

"What?!" Every pony shouted out in unison, all except Luna whom already knew.

"Yes. I managed to convince him to teach me dark magic."

"But don't you remember that Sombra became a tyrant because of dark magic?!"

"That's what the anchor is for. It's supposed to be something to keep me on the right path and keep me from going mad."

The picnic area remained quiet as they all looked at each other fr a hint as to how they should react. No pony did anything though, just blank and worried stares were exchanged.

"Don't worry! Sombrie is a great teacher." Pinkie shouted out, getting every pony's attention. "I've seen him teach Dinky how to use magic."

"Darling, teaching a filly how to use levitation and teaching a princess dark magic are two very different things."

"That is not completely truth." Luna interjected, putting down her burger. "In both situations one is taught foreign techniques." She said, drawing a parallel between Dinky and Twilight. "The reason Sombra wished to speak to Our sister was to make doubly sure Twilight Sparkle is not taken by thy own darkness as both he and We once did."

Everypony murmured among themselves before coming to an agreement. With a smile they all crowded around the expecting mare and hugged her with all their might.

"Princess Luna is right ya'll, lets just encourage Twilight as much as we can." Applejack said from with in the dog pile.

"Can't Breath!" Twilight shouted from under the weight of her friends. Instantly they all stood up and looked down at their friend come puffed up her cheeks as she looked around at them, angry at the sudden physical assault. An anger that did not last long before she burst out into a giggle fit, her friend's care getting the best of her. Again they all gathered and hugged.


"And so I need some advice dealing with Sparkle." Sombra said, finishing his story on the matter of Twilight's dark magic training.

"Hmm." Celestia said as she thought. Looking over at her ex student, a gentle smile grew on her lips. "I think Twilight's anchor is right in front of her eyes."

"Truely?" He said, looking over at the mares embracing eachother and laughing. "Well perhaps you might enlighten me on the matter."

"You don't seem to understand the power of friendship just yet."

Sombra gave an annoyed expression as he glanced back at Celestia who had a plotting grin on her face. "What are you scheming Celestia?..." He asked, though he was almost too anxious to actually find out.

"A test of courage!" She shouted out.

"A what?"

"A test of courage. You place Twilight in a scary, dark environment and see how long she can last."

"That's awfully mean spirited."

"Nonesense, school fillies do this all the time for fun."

"Let me ask you this, what would putting her through this 'test of courage' accomplish?"

"Trust me Sombra."

"I've no other choice do I?"

Celestia did not responded, simply continued to smile as she looked at the ground. "You'll help won't you Discord?"

Though a little confused at first, Sombra quickly realized that the lord of chaos had taken the form or a small ladybug. Its sickly red and yellow eyes were the only thing that gave him away.

"But of course! How could I pass the opportunity to wreck chaos and not be punished for it."

"Great!" Celestia finished and began to walk towards the still giggling mares. Though Sombra wished to continue their conversation further, it seems he was once again dragged into Celestia's plan. He sighed and followed the princess. As the shadow of the duo reached Twilight whom was laying on the ground laughing, she quickly saw both her teachers and stood up as quick as she could, quieting down all together. She gulped as she saw the contrasting expressions upon Celestia and Sombra. His was stoic and more on the annoyed side while Celestia's was calm and regal like usual.



"Sombra and I have agreed that you must go through a Test of Courage."

Twilight looked perplex as she took a step towards the sun goddess. "Pardon me, but what's a Test of Courage?"

"Haven't ya ever done one as a filly?" Applejack asked. "It's a silly little game where a bunch of colts and fillies go into an abandoned building or scary part of the woods and see who lasts the longest."

"I...wasn't very social as a filly." She responded with a faint blush.

"But my question is, why does Twilight have to do something like that?" Rarity asked. Sombra looked over at Celestia for an answer since himself wasn't sure as to why either.

"Well, I hear Twilight is having a hard time finding her anchor, correct? Now as I understand it, your anchor is suppose to keep you in line and on the right path to keep you from succumbing to the darkness, so if we actually put you in darkness, perhaps you will find what your anchor really is."

Sombra raised an eyebrow. Her plan was really astute, it was hard to believe that she thought it all up in the span of the few minutes since he told her. He looked over at Twilight who seemed unsure about the entire situation.

"Don't you fret Sugarcube, we'll be right there with you, right Princess?"

"Of course."

"They are?" Sombra asked, shocked at how quickly she agreed.

"Well of course, roaming in darkness can be quite scary, right? What would be better than to have a few friendly faces to keep every pony safe."

Sombra was liking this 'test of courage' less and less his idea of simply getting some advice had been thrown out the window, ran over by a wagon and then disposed off in a bottomless pit. Again he sighed as he grabbed Celestia's attention. "So how will this work?"

"Well, Luna and Discord will create an environment worthy of a Test of Courage while I moderate to keep everything under control."

"Thou can place thy trust in Us!" Luna shouted, happy to help.

"Don't worry Sombra, I'll make sure to make things scary enough to meet your standards." Discord said, almost in a teasing manner, but Sombra brushed off his comment.

"Alright, but what of me?" He asked, confused as to his role in the Test of Courage.

"Just a moment Sombra." Celestia said as she gestured the elements to gather around. "Now every pony, I will now partner you all up."

"Partner?" Pinkie asked as she glanced at Sombra. "So we'll be in groups of two?"

"That's right. You and Twilight will partner up. Applejack and Rarity will also be a pair and lastly, Fluttershy and Sombra."

"What!?" Discord jumped in. "You're not serious about making dear Fluttershy take part of this Test of Courage are you?! And with Sombra?!

Before Celestia had time to responded, Sombra also spoke out his opinion. "Yes, I would rather not be partnered up with Fluttershy or-"

"What's wrong with Fluttershy?" Discord asked, quickly switching his attention to the stallion. "Don't think she's good enough for your standards?" He asked, getting really close to him, one eye open as it stared into one of Sombra's

"Uh, no that's not what I meant-"

"Then it's decided! You are to be paired up with Fluttershy!"

"Oh Tartarous..." Sombra managed to say to himself, while glancing out at his pegasus friend. "This can't end well."

27. Test of Courage (pt 1)

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Fluttershy hummed to herself happily as she and Sombra walked down what any pony would say was a dark dense Forest. She was awfully chirpy despite the frightening surroundings. Both of them walked in no direction in particular, their hooves echoing in the distance.

"Wow, Discord and Luna did a very good job at making this seem like we're in a dark spooky forest." Fluttershy said, looking around at the scenery.

"You don't seem phased in the slightest."

"Well, no, I mean, I know that with you here I'll be safe no matter what."

Sombra raised an eyebrow at her response. "And why is that?"

"You told me that you would keep me safe no matter what, remember?" Fluttershy said as she shifted her attention from one part of the forest to another.

"Right..." Sombra said. He thought that maybe perhaps now was a good time to simply tell her the truth about why he wanted to protect her back then. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak, but quickly shut it as he stomped the ground, creating a crystal spike that pierced an incoming bat like creature that was flying straight to Fluttershy with it's fangs bared.

"Oh my goodness! Sombra, why did you do that?" She asked as she ran up to the creature but before she got the chance to touch it, it disappeared into thin air.

"So it wasn't real..." Sombra said, getting close to inspect the ground.

"Well even if it wasn't, you still shouldn't have attacked it like that."

"Jeez, you're sounding like Diane." He responded, turning away to avoid her pouting expression.

"Diane? You mean Pinkie?"

"Uh...No. Diane is a mare from the Crystal Empire one thousand years ago."

"So why did you call Pinkie Diane before?"

Sombra stared blankly at Fluttershy. He didn't respond not just because he didn't want to, but because he himself wasn't sure why either. "We should get a move on." He said, quickly beginning to make way further into the dense forest, and with each step they took, a thick fog began to set in behind them. The area they left behind began to leave a white mist that sealed them off from the rest of the forest.


"Ohhh, I wonder how Sombra and Fluttershy are doing." Pinkie asked out to no pony in particular. She and Twilight were in a similar situation as the other duo, they too were in a dark forest filled with strange noises.

"Why are you so worried about them?" Twilight asked, peering around every corner, making sure everything was safe for them. "With Sombra there nothing will happen to Fluttershy."

"Y-Yeah I know." Pinkie said, though her mind was else where entirely. What worried her was Fluttershy getting ahead of her in their rivalry, but truth be told, she wasn't even sure if Fluttershy knew they were rivals at all.

"Say, what usually happens in these Tests of Courage? You've been in one before right?"

"Oh, plenty, though every pony said it was unfair since I'm not scared of anything."

"Yeah, you just laugh your fright away." Twilight said, remembering the time she proved her element back when they first met. "What was it you said? Giggle at the Ghosties?"

"Rightio! Things are no fun when you're scared, so if you just laugh it off you'll be alright."

"I suppose that's why Princess Celestia paired me off with you, maybe I should take some notes." Twilight said, looking to see if she had anything on her she could use as a note pad. Her antics only got a giggle or two out of Pinkie, but her laugh was short lived.

"Oh Sombrie..." She said looking off into the forest.


"Say Rarity?" Applejack said, looking around at each small noise she heard.

"Y-yes Applejack?"

"This is all fake right? Ah mean, we ain't in any real danger are we?" She said, still very cautious about her surroundings.

"O-Of course we aren't in any real danger...Princess Celestia wouldn't allow it..."

"But ya heard what Sombra was saying, she might have our best interests...but we are always on the front line. B-Besides, the one behind it all is Discord."

"Goodness, don't talk of Princess Celestia like that-" Something snapped in the bushes close by, causing Rarity to stop mid sentence. "What was that?" Before Applejack had a chance to respond, a loud roar was heard echoing around the forest. Both mare began to gallop as quickly as they could away, the roar not sounding the least bit friendly, but to Applejack in particular, held a strange familiarity.


"Thou hast impressive skills at creating horrific scenery." Luna complimented the draconequus who was busy pulling strings left and right as if putting on a puppet show.

"Oh, years of practice. I was once known as the lord of chaos you know, not just being disorderly, but a terrifying Overlord too!" He said, quite proud of his past accomplishments. "Of course, one grows bored of such a routine, I just had to find a more fun outlet."

"We are overjoyed in knowing We were not born at the time of thine rule as an Overlord..." Luna said, fearing what kind of hellish acts he might have committed.

"Woah..." A small dragon said. Spike had come by to check on how the picnic was going but was met with a rather strange sight. "What is that!?" He shouted out, pointing at the large back force field that covered a large part of the landscape.

"Oh Spike my boy, it is just Luna's night magic, keeping that area completely shrouded in darkness while I mess around with the inside, making everything as scary as possible."

"And why would you needed to do that?" He asked. He took a quick look around to see none of his friends and began to make allegations."Did you trap Twilight and every pony else in there?!"

"Calm thyself Spike, he hast done no such thing. Thy friends art in a stage of examination by Our sister."

"And just where is Princess Celestia then?" Spike asked, no convinced in the slightest. Discord promptly picked him up and pointed him in the direction of the dark force field. Quickly realizing what the large draconequus was telling him, he shouted out. "You're kidding!"

"You're worry is ill placed. Thine friends are formidable, they shall not be in any harm."

"I hope you're right." Spike said, but let out a grunt as he suddenly hit the ground, Discord having dropped him to grab his puppet strings to get back to work.

"There is no 'hope' dear Spike, if they do not pass this Test of Courage, you can kiss Equestria good bye."

"And what is that supposed to mean!?" Spike was about to say more but was stopped by Luna who only placed a hoof at his shoulder. He wasn't sure what she meant, but he took it as a hint to be quiet.


"Sombra?" Fluttershy asked, still keeping close pace to the dark stallion. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Depends on the question." He said almost coldly.

"Did you really mean it? What you said to Discord."

"You might need to get more specific." He said as he pushed some greenery from his path. He raised his fore hoof to keep the bush from blocking Fluttershy's path and once she got through he followed in.

"Well, you kind of threatened to kill him."

"Oh...that." Sombra said, standing still for a moment. "I...was just caught up in the moment. Things got a little out of hoof and I spoke without thinking."

"I see." Fluttershy responded, not sure as to what to say next. They began to walk again, their hoof steps being the only noise heard. After a long while of nothing but walking, she took up the courage to speak up again. "It's just, I had never heard you threaten some pony like that before. It certainty looked like you meant it."

"Rest assured, I didn't. And even if I did, it isn't like I can actually kill the Lord of Chaos. My dark magic is running low and that draconequus is much too powerful even for me at max power."

"So what you're saying is that you would if you could?"

"That isn't what I'm saying." He said, turning to look at Fluttershy who came to a stop to look back at him. "I feel like you're beating around the bush. What is it that is bothering you?"

"I'm just wondering why you keep saying that you aren't reformed. It's like you keep denying that you can ever be reformed when every pony else thinks otherwise."

Sombra was a lost of words. He wanted to respond with something, but nothing came to him. He looked away at the ground next to him but glanced back when he felt a hoof at his chest.

"What's wrong Sombra?"

"I am not reformed Fluttershy. To be reformed is to be forgive for what I have done and start over. What I have done has no forgiveness. The terrors I've created to the Empire I once ruled has no remedy, they will forever curse 'The Tyrant Unicorn King' as a period of disaster in their history."

"So you don't think they will forgive you?"

"I doesn't matter if they forgive me Fluttershy, I can't forgive myself for what I did!" He said, raising his voice slightly. His cold shout echoed in the distance.

Sombra's outburst made his eye combust in small purple flames and he soon realized what he had done. The mare in front of him back up a few feet, hiding herself in her mane. The dark stallion looked at the ground as he thought about how badly he handled the situation. "I'm sorry, I did not mean to raise my voice like that." He said, still looking away. It was just another mistake in his life; one of many he would regret for the rest of his days.

"I-It's okay. I'm sorry too." She responded, creeping close again, her mood lifted after his apology.

"What are you sorry for?" Sombra asked a little confused.

"I was being insensitive, I didn't realize how much your past weighed on your heart."

"It is just another burden I must carry. It is nothing I can't handle."

"Well, Applejack is pretty strong." Fluttershy said, beginning to circle around Sombra. "She once tried to do Applebuck Season all by herself."

"I-I see." He said, not following as to what that had to do with anything. The pegasus stopped once she was back in front of him and continued her tale.

"She managed to buck half of her entire orchard in just over a week. I think that of we had left her alone she could have actually pulled it off by herself, but she was already completely worn out from balancing her apple bucking and her chores. In the end, we all helped her finish Applebuck Season in just a few days."

"I am not sure what you're trying to tell me Fluttershy." Sombra said, to which her response was to poke him on his muzzle.

"What I am trying to say, is just because Applejack could have, and probably would have finished bucking all on her own, but it was better for her to ask for help and have her friends shoulder some of her burdens."

Sombra let out a sigh as he closed his eyes, finally understanding her point. "I doubt you or any of your friends can help me carry this burden, after all, this is a result of my actions. I am simply paying for what I did, nothing more."

"I think that a thousand years in ice is more than enough punishment, don't you?"

"No nearly enough." He said, his eyes narrowing at the thought of the things he did. "If I had met some pony like me back then now, I would drive him into the ground where he stood. The things I did have no forgiveness." He said coldly, only making Fluttershy worry more and more about him.

"So...what exactly did you do?"

"I killed, I enslaved, I tortured, I obsessed with my position as king, and worst of all, I broke my promise to a dear friend of mine." He finished, turning around and beginning to walk away only to stop a few yards away to allow her to catch back up to him. Fluttershy, though still worried about his well being, laughed softly to herself at his list of terrible deeds. Though everything he named was certainly bad, it was almost funny to her that he considers breaking a promise the worst thing he did as a tyrant. It gave her hope, that perhaps he still had a chance to see the change in himself and move on from his past.

In the distance, an eerie shadow peered at the duo walking away. Red and green eyes stalked them from the shadows as they made their way, oblivious to the hell spawn on their tail.


"Did you hear that?" Pinkie asked, her ears twitching back and forth as she tried to listen better.

"Hear what?"

"It sounded like some pony shouted, do you think that some pony is in trouble?" The pink mare asked, rather worried mostly because it was Sombra's voice she heard.

"Oh Pinkie, this is Celestia's test, we aren't in any real danger. I'm sure some pony just got spooked by some strange noise or something." She said, though not fully believing it herself.

"If you say so..."

The two mares got back on track, or as close as they could anyway. They did not have much of an objective to begin with. All that the sun goddess had told them to do was to stay in the darkness before the shroud of night kicked in, locking them inside their force filed to Discord's whim. There wasn't anything particularly bad in this make belief forest they were in, but nothing was good either. With no sense of direction, every pony was lost as to what to do at all.

"So, what's the plan?" Pinkie asked, trying to get her head back to what was in front of her, a friend who needed her support.

"I guess we just keep moving forward. You saw the force field go up right? It's a dome and in most cases, domes always have something of value in the dead center." Twilight gulped as her words left her lips. Perhaps 'dead' was not the best word to use when stuck in a deadly forest.

"Okie dokie loki" Pinkie said, keeping close to Twilight who really seemed to be struggling to keep her cool, and though it was plain as day, she kept that detail to herself to keep the purple mare's confidence up.

Slowly they ventured further into the forest, and with each step a fog began to set in. It was subtle at first, but soon it the mist was becoming very much a hindrance to them, barely able to see what was right in front of their eyes. Twilight squint as she tried to make out what was in front of her but it was to no avail as she soon hit against something hard.

"Are you okay?" Pinkie asked, hearing her friend grunt on her impact with something.

"I think so." Twilight said holding onto her nuzzle. "I think I hit a tree."

"This fog is so thick, think maybe we're going the wrong way?"

"No way, we've been walking a straight line towards the center, we are going in the right direction." Twilight said, feeling against whatever she had hit, trying to make out what it was. All around her all she could see was a thick white mist, and though she could hear Pinkie clearly, she only had a vague idea as to where she was.

"Are you sure we're suppose to go to the middle at all?"

"Well, no. I'm not really sure of anything...."


"Think we lost it?" Rarity asked, tired and gasping for air as she allowed herself to collapse on the ground. On a normal occasion she would never allow herself to touch the dirty ground of a forest, but she was simply way too exhausted to care at the moment.

"Ah think so...though Ah'm not sure it was chasing us to begin with."

"So why in Celestia's name were we running!?" She shouted from the ground, frustrated and still a little agitated.

"It's uh, good exercise?" Applejack responded with a nervous laugh. Her friend was tempted to hit her with whatever was closest to her right now, but decided against it. She got up and tried to compose herself.

"So what now Applejack?" Rarity asked, looking around at her unfamiliar surroundings.

"I haven't the darnest idea." She responded looking around, after losing hope in finding a familiar land mark or something of the like, Applejack looked straight up.

"What are you looking at darling?"

"Ah'm looking for some stars, but there don't seem to be any out."

"Well of course not, it isn't actually night. We're just inside a field of darkness with Discord in control of the environment."

"So that means we ain't got no way of telling up from down huh?"

"Seems like it, yes."

Getting an idea, Applejack grabbed a nearby stone and started using it to draw an apple on the ground.

"Uh, Applejack darling, I know you really like your apples, but I doubt this is the time to do that."

"Hush now, Ah'm just making a landmark we can recognize in case we end up walking past here again." She said, finishing drawing her apple along with a diamond and an arrow along side it. "See? It's our cutie marks with the direction we're heading in, so if any of our friend's find it, they'll know where we are."

"That's very astute, I didn't expect that from you."

"Ah'll take that as a compliment." Applejack replied before standing back up and gesturing her friend to follow along. As planned, they began to walk in the direction the arrow was pointing in. The two of them walked for quite some time, all the while not uttering a single word mostly because the surroundings didn't exactly give them the small talk vibe needed for it. Finally, after trees and trees, they reached a clearing, a small patch where nothing stood but dirt and weeds.

"Great! We can use this place as another landmark." Applejack said, excited that they finally got something to do other than walk none stop.

"Allow me." Rarity said, walking to the middle of the clearing as she looked around for an instrument she could use to draw their landmark. For some reason, however, she felt the urge to look up once she reached the center of the clearing. She didn't give it a second thought, but as she glanced up, she soon wished she hadn't. In a surge of emotion, she let out a loud heart clenched scream.


"Did you hear that now!?" Pinkie asked out, a loud shout quite apparent to both her and Twilight who were still rather lost in the thick fog of white.

"Yeah, think some pony really is in trouble?" Twilight responded, and though still unsure as to where there were exactly, the sound they heard was still audible. "Follow where the sound is coming front!" She shouted as she began to trot in the direction she head the shrieking still coming from. Soon enough, Twilight was able to see Pinkie running along side her, the fog no longer hindering their vision and the dark forest back in view. They spent no time celebrating that their sight was back as they screaming was becoming louder, meaning they were close. What come next was something strange indeed, Rarity sat crying out as Applejack held her, blocking her vision from something.

"Rarity!" Pinkies shouted out as she ran over to the two. "Applejack, what happened to her?" The orange mare didn't answer as she too was disturbed from whatever they had seen. Pinkie wanted to ask again, but as she opened her mouth to speak, something wet landed on her cheek. Quickly she wiped it off and noticed that whatever had landed on her was red. Puzzled by what it could be, she lifted her head to see where it had come from.

What was above her was a scene of true horror. A corpse was suspended in the air by black crystal spikes that impaled it multiple times. Blood began to drip down from each of the dozen wounds it had, slowly drenching the black crystal in a red color. The limbs of the stallion swung back and forth as the momentum from the stabs had not worn off yet. Again a drop of blood fell from the dead body landing upon Pinkie's forehead. The pink mare's eyes remained wide open as disbelief and denial took over her. The corpse reflected on her sapphire eyes as tears began to stream out in a silent cry. Her voice was stuck in her throat as she mustered the strength to shout. Finally, after what felt like an eternity of silence, Pinkie let out a scream of horror and heart ache as her eyes remained glued to the familiar figure.


28. Test of Courage (pt 2)

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"Hey Sombra."

"Yes Fluttershy?"

"Just wanted to let you know, you're a really nice stallion and you deserve to be forgiven like any other pony." Fluttershy said with a sweet smile. Though Sombra didn't actually see her smile, he could just hear it in her voice.

"Says the mare who was too scared to even speak to me when we first met." He replied, making the pegasus react in a rather comedic manner.

"B-B-B-But that was different!" She shouted, clearly caught off guard by his response. She began to talk really fast while turning around to avoid any teasing glances coming her way, no doubt he was enjoying her freaking out. "You had flames coming out of your eyes and you were wearing that outfit from when you attacked the Crystal Empire!" Finally she turned back around and saw Sombra starring at her, his king crown high on his head and his royal red cape upon his shoulder while his eyes set in a purple blaze. "Yeah, just like that."

Sombra, the real Sombra, who had just now noticed his friend was no longer walking next to him, turned around to see a mirror image of himself standing in front of Fluttershy. His eyes widened as he saw what he once was: The Tyrant King. Without hesitation, Sombra leap over his double and stood between him and the yellow mare.

"S-Sombra? There are two of you?" She questioned, but no answer came from the dark stallion who was too busy glaring at...himself.

Sombra was fighting in internal battle, one that he never thought he'd come across in his long life. Without a second thought, he unleashed his purple flames and summoned crystal spikes as warning fire for his double. "Leave. Now." He shouted at the Tyrant King to which he only got a chuckle as a response.

"You dare order me around peasant? I am King Sombra! Bow before me and I shall spare your life maybe even take you one of my personal slaves!" The King finished with a chilling laugh that frightened the mare behind Sombra.

Sombra was angry, no he was furious. He reason behind it wasn't all too clear to him, but if there was one thing he knew was is that the figure in front of him was nothing more than a grim reminder of who he once was, a stain in the history of the Crystal Empire. Without any restraint, Sombra let out a barrage of skewers that extended from the ground beneath the 'King', each one impaling him and penetrating his entire body and holding him up in the air, each stab thrusting the shadow's double higher and higher into the air.

"Sombra stop!" Fluttershy screamed, finally getting Sombra's attention, but by the time he had reacted, what laid in front of them was nothing more than a corpse who had been killed fifty times over, each impale a deadly wound that bled out onto the crystal spike, slowly drenching the crystal in red.

Tired from utilizing so much of his dark magic, Sombra breathed heavily and gazed upon his own handy work, not something he was proud to have done, even less in front of such a delicate mare. "I-I'm sorry, I didn't wish for you to-"

"Just stop!" Fluttershy said as she pushed Sombra down. He was shocked at the amount of strength she could exert, but before he could react, he felt something cold fall on his face. Over him stood Fluttershy who had pinned him down, not letting him move in an effort to keep him from hurting himself further, her tears falling on him.

He was confused, but things began to become clear when he felt a sharp pain on his body. Taking a quick look at his abdomen, he saw many open wounds, each one mirrored to the ones he had made on his double.

"Please Sombra, please stop hating yourself so much that you attacked yourself with the intent to....kill yourself!" Fluttershy said through her choking voice. "Do you really hate yourself so much? Please....please...please stop hurting yourself like this..."

Sombra flinched as the pain began to catch up to him, the sort of pain he was once used to. Glancing at his body again he saw his dark essence already starting to reconstruct itself, and in a pained voice, tried to comfort the weeping mare.

"H-Hey, Fluttershy, no need to cry. See? I'm already healing."

"That doesn't matter!" She said, falling on the stallion and burying her face in his neck. "It isn't right! You shouldn't be willing to attack yourself so savagely. It just isn't right!" She said, holding on to his blood drenched clothes. "Why do you hate yourself so much?!"

Sombra, like usual, didn't have an answer. It's not just that he had a reason to hate himself, it's that he also did not have a reason to forgive himself either. He was at a stand still. He couldn't move forward with so much baggage holding him back.

"Please Sombra....Just stop..." Fluttershy said, her shouts now no more than a whisper and her weeping had died down to whimpers.

"I-I'll try." Was all he could say to the distraught mare on top of him. That's all he could promise her. If nothing else, he had to try to move on from the past that chained him so much.


"Pinkie! Pinkie!" Twilight shouted as she tried her best to calm her friend who had not stopped screaming her heart out.

"S-Sombra! No, it can't be true!" Pinkie shouted, her arms flailing around as her friend tried to shield her from the gruesome image.

"It isn't! This isn't real! It can't be! We're in a Test of Courage, this must just be something placed here to throw us off." She continued to try to reason with the mare, but mostly ineffective, after all, the corpse in front of them seemed like enough proof.

"T-Twilight's right dear." A soft voice said from afar. Rarity had been brought back to reality by her friend's screams and with Applejack's help, made her way to Pinkie. "Sombra took on an Ursa Major remember? There's nothing that can kill him." The white mare said, kneeling down next to Pinkie and holding on to her. Her sudden embrace made the mare cling onto her. The show of affection seemed to have calmed down their cries, but both still whimpered together.

Finding some relief in her friends finally quieting down, Twilight walked back and gave them some space. As she finally reached an adequate distance, she glanced up and felt her chest ache. The sight she beheld was truly horrific to say the least, but as she looked closer she noticed that something looked off.

"Hey Applejack?" She asked, waving her hoof to get the farm pony to come closer. "Do you see that?"

"A dead friend? Yeah..." She responded, not willing to stare at the scene for very long.

"No, look again. Sombra is wearing his crown and cape."


"They were destroyed in his fight with Chrysalis weren't they?"

Applejack looked up again and paid closer attention to the lifeless body only to find her friend's observation's true. "Yer right! Sombra only wear the fancy clothes Rarity made him nowadays."

"That's right, not to mention..." She said, bringing Applejack close to help point out something. "Look, the crystal spike killed this...'Sombra', if this was the real Sombra then it would mean he killed himself."

"So what yer saying is that our Sombra was the one who killed this Sombra?"

"What else could have happened?" Twilight said, beginning to make her way to her friends, happy to tell them of her findings. But as Twilight walked away, Applejack felt a chill down her spine. She looked around the dark forest for whatever was making her feel so anxious, but the more she searched, the worse the feeling became. Thinking it was best to stick together, the farm pony begins to regroup with her friends.


"How are you keeping up?" Fluttershy asked, Sombra leaning on her as they walked.

"I'm fine, I can walk on my own." He said, trying to move away from the mare, but was quickly pulled back in with a yellow wing.

"Sorry, but you shouldn't strain yourself. Just lean on me until you feel better."

"I do feel better."

Fluttershy stopped and allowed the stallion to stand up straight as she inspected him. "Really?"

"Yes." He responded, but it did not seem to convince her at all since she came close to take a closer look at him.

"Well your wounds are gone..." She said, glancing at his stomach area.

"See? I told you I'm- GAH!" Sombra, however, was interrupted by a scream, one that came from him. Fluttershy had poked his abdomen to see just how well he had healed, but evidently, not very much.

"Sombra you liar!" She said, pouting at him. Sombra did his best to avoid eye contact with the mare as her rather cute anger fit made her capable of making him agree to almost anything. But in his antics of avoiding her eyes, he noticed peculiar in the distance, an engraving of some sort.

"What's that?" He asked out as he made his way to it.

"Don't you go changing the subject mister."

"Calm yourself Fluttershy and come take a look at this." He said as he sat down to see what seemed like a drawing of some kind.

"What is it?" Fluttershy asked as she peeked over his shoulder.

"An apple and a diamond..." Sombra responded as he stroked his chin in thought. "What might this mean?"

The yellow mare gasped as a smile filled her face. "It's Applejack and Rarity!" She shouted happily.

"How can you tell?"

"It's their cutie marks. And also an arrow..." She said, pointing her hoof at the drawing. As she reached over Sombra he could feel her weight strain his healing wounds but did his best to keep his expression stoic to no concern her.

"The arrow is pointed straight from where we came from..." Sombra said from under her, Fluttershy practically crawling on him to get close enough to the drawing. "But that means that they went in our direction."

"Oh my, they've probably seen the other Sombra by now..." Fluttershy said, terrified of what they would do if they found the corpse.

"More importantly, if we were walking in their direction...why didn't we meet up?"


"So are you really sure that Sombra isn't our Sombra?" Pinkie asked as she wiped away what tears she still had on her face.

"Of course it isn't." Twilight said with a smile. "Sombra is practically immortal remember?"

"Yes darling, besides you heard what Twilight said, it looks like the real Sombra took care of the problem." Rarity said as she helped her friend stand up.

"And what problem would that be?" Twilight asked, slightly confused at what she was getting at.

"Well think about it dear, what if instead of the fake Sombra meeting the real one, it had met one of us? We could of have been in some serious trouble."

"So I guess Sombra was looking out for us even when he's not around huh?" Pinkie said, finally started to cheer up from all her crying.

"Seems like it." Twilight said, giving her a reassuring smile.

"Ah hate to break up this touching moment, but Ah think we should get going." Applejack said, rejoining her friends. Every pony gave her a puzzled look as the fidgety mare looked around.

"What's wrong Applejack?"

"Ah don't know, Ah just got a real bad feeling about this place...Lets just go okay?" She said, already trying to make her way back into the forest. Her friends all looked at each other with worried expressions but decided to humor her. However, before leaving, Rarity quickly left something behind as fast as she could. Finally finishing, she ran after her friends to catch up to them.

A soft growl was heard from the trees behind them, eyes opened up as it got back on the move, slowly stalking it's oblivious targets. It was swift as it barely created a shadow in the already dark terrain. As it ran, however, it left a foot print in the soft dirt, a foot print that was beginning to be covered up by mist.


"How much further do think?"

"Not much, I doubt we walked that far since...the other Sombra." The dark stallion replied, still not willing to recall the little engagement he had with himself. A quick glance at his friend beside him and it was clear she didn't either. Again silence reigned between them for a time, not awkward silence or even hateful silence, but rather uneasy silence. Something was really weird about their environment. It took a while for Sombra himself to understand what was just to unsettling about everything, but he finally understood.

It was the quiet atmosphere itself. When they had first started, the forest made eerie and noises, there were creatures running on top the trees and eyes peering at them form the shadows, all the usual scare gags, but now, there was nothing. Sombra narrowed his eyes as he strained his senses, he wanted to find something, anything that gave him some sort of clue as to what was going on. Before he could think of something, however, Fluttershy's voice interrupted his train of thought.

"W-We're here..." She said softly. A whisper that he could hear plainly even though she was meters away. He sighed, trying to get out of his strange mood and looked around for signs of their friends.

"Look there." He said, spotting another drawing on the ground. He and Fluttershy stepped closer to take a look and noticed that it was drawn much more elegantly than the previous.

"Rarity must have drawn it this time, and look there's a balloon and a star, that means they met up with Twilight and Pinkie!" She said, over joyed to know that all her friends were alright.

"Another arrow, this time pointed that way..." Sombra said, turning his head in the direction they would soon head on. Fluttershy was so excited to meet up with her friends once more that she was already started to make her way forward, but Sombra stayed back a minute. Slowly he began to look up at 'his' corpse.

"I'm sorry." He told his lifeless husk. "I might have over reacted. I know that you're part of my past, but it doesn't mean I have to be happy that you are." As he spoke up to the other him, the blood continued to drip out from its wounds, a single drop landing on Sombra's red horn. With a deep breath he clenched his teeth as he once again used his dark magic, but this time it was to retract the 'king' from it's imprisonment of crystal spikes.

As the body began to fall towards Sombra, he closed his eyes and said. "I am breaking the chains holding me to you, I will surpass my past, and that means, surpassing you 'King Sombra'." Before the corpse actually hit Sombra, it dissipated into thin air, white shards of light exploding from his double and gently falling on him. As he opened his eyes, he saw a beautiful array of color around him, not just the dark shades of the forest and it resonated with he now lifted weight form his shoulder, he could breath easier now.

"Sombra?" Fluttershy asked from behind a tree. "Are you okay?"

"Yes. I'll be right over." Sombra said, hiding his smile from her. "I was just...making amends."


"Slow down Applejack!" Twilight shouted as she tried to catch up to the now fleeing mare. "What's wrong?!"

"Hurry everypony!" Applejack screamed out, she was in some sort of hysterical frenzy, as she looked all around she saw eyes glaring at her from the shadows. Those yellow, leering eyes only made her anxiety rise more and more. The more she ran the more she felt as if she was about to be pounced on by her aggressor. Applejack began to hyperventilate and her eyes began to tear up as she finally came to a halt.

" no no!" She shouted out as she fell to the ground. Soft growls began to be heard all around her, only making her even more paranoid. "Ah don't wanna die." She said, her pupils small and her eyes wide open.

"Applejack? Applejack!" Twilight shouted out, trying to find her friend.

"Applejack?!" Pinkie echoed her friend, she too worried for the farm pony.

"Goodness, where did she go?"

"I don't know, but we better find her fast." Twilight said as she continued her chase, but to her discontent, she noticed a mist starting to build up around them. "Oh no, the fog is coming back! Not now! Hurry every pony, lets find her quick!"

"What wrong with the fog Twilight?"

"Things get super hard to see when the fog sets in!" Pinkie answered the question. "We got lost in it just before we met up with you and Applejack."

The three mares did their best to run as fast as they could, but no matter how fast their hooves seemed to take them, the fog set in faster than they could run. Soon, they were engulfed in white. Cold, cold whiteness. They couldn't see anything and with that, their dear friend Applejack would be lost to them...lost to the monster chasing her.


Sombra and Fluttershy continued their walk into what seemed to be an endless forest. The mare beside him seemed happy to finally be well on their way to their friends, but Sombra himself was too busy thinking about what exactly the purpose of this forest really was. Discord and Luna, why did Celestia want both of them to work together? Was it just so Luna could turn the forest to it's night time? Discord could have managed that just fine, so why didn't he? What was really going on? His thoughts were short lived as something caught his ears.

"What is that?" Fluttershy asked as she stopped to listen.

"It a filly crying..." Sombra said, following the sound to it's origin. The duo walked slowly as they approached the source, after all, it could be a trap of some sort. If the forest could produce a doppelganger of him, what else would it do? Finally the reached a moving bush, the crying now loud and clear. Sombra and Fluttershy glanced at each other as they slowly got closer, and together they moved the leaves apart to see what was behind. What they found was a surprise alright, it was indeed a filly, and it was indeed crying, but what was specifically strange was that it was a filly version of Twilight.

"Wah! Shining!" She cried as she saw Sombra, instantly jumping on to him and clinging to him.


29. Test of Courage (pt 3)

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"Shining!" The filly Twilight shouted out as she clenched Sombra's mane. The dark stallion was shocked to say the least as he back up.

"Sparkle? Sparkle what happened?!" He shouted as he tried his best to get the filly off of him. After a little bit of struggle, he finally managed to rip her off only to have her look at him in sadness.

"Shining I was all alone!" Twilight cried out, her large teary eyes staring at Sombra. With the puppy dog stare, Sombra was practically helpless to humor the filly.

"I-I see...It's alright Sparkle, 'Shining' is here now." He said, putting the filly on his back as she once again clung to him. She was trembling in fright and her eyes closed shut as she tried not to look at the scary forest around them. Once able to get a good grasp of Sombra and able to feel his warmth, the filly began to settle down.

"Oh goodness, what happened to Twilight?"

"Your guess is as good as mine..." Sombra said, glancing to the filly on his back. "Who is this 'Shining'?" He asked after they began to compose himself.

"She must be talking about her brother, Shining Armor."

"Shining Armor? Do we look alike?"

Fluttershy took a moment to stare at Sombra. She then imagined a grinning Shining Armor next to him and snickered to herself softly."Y-Yes? I're both...unicorns?" She said, remembered Shining's sheepish smile and how Sombra rarely shows any emotion at all. "And you're both stallions?"

Sombra was not amused by the mare's snickering and comparisons. "I'll take that as a no." He said before turning around and beginning to make his way back to the path they were following. "Hurry now Fluttershy, perhaps we can regroup with the other elements and find out what happened to Sparkle exactly."

The path back was simple, Sombra just retraced their steps until they returned to the point where they first heard heard Twilight's crying, but once there the duo looked around a little confused. They knew that they had made it back to their turning point, but had no idea which way the arrow had been pointing in.

"You don't happen to remember which way to go, do you?" Sombra asked his friend only to get a nervous shrug. With a sigh Sombra looked around the ground, perhaps they had left hoof prints or a broken branch to give them a hint, but sadly, nothing seemed disturbed.

"Oh my, you don't think we're lost again are we?"

"Looks like it. Best thing to do is find the drawing once more and follow the arrow again."

"Do you know where it might be?'

"Not the slightest idea..." He said, but as doubt began to cloud their minds, Sombra felt the filly on his back begin to tighten her grip on him. "Sparkle, is something the matter?"

"I wanna go home." She said, burying her face in his mane. Sombra and Fluttershy exchanged glances as they both looked rather worried at their 'friend'.

"Say Sparkle, what is the last thing you remember?" Sombra asked, curious as to happened exactly to her.

"Well...I was home reading and...and...and then I wake up here! Mom and Dad are going to be so worried about me." She said, lifting her head to look at the stallion she was riding. "But I'm glad you found me Shining." She said as she nuzzled his mane.

"I see..." Sombra said, still very confused as to why Twilight was in such a state. Still, right now she was the only clue he had as to what happened to the others. "So Sparkle, which way should we go?"

"Do you think that she knows?" Fluttershy asked as she got close to the stallion, flying so she could reach his ear to whisper.

"No." He responded in the same whispering tone. "But letting her decide won't hurt our chances any less than just picking a random direction, plus it is best to keep her occupied so she doesn't cry again."

"That way!" Twilight said, climbing to Sombra's head and using his horn to keep herself balanced.

"And what makes you so sure it's that way?" Sombra responded with a half smile, simply starting conversation with the filly as she got into a comfortable spot on his head.


"Cause why?"

"Just cause!" Twilight blurted out, hitting Sombra on the head with her hoof but only getting a chuckle out of him as a response.

"My my, you're quite aggressive today aren't you Sparkle?"

"Why do you keep calling me like that?" Twilight asked as she hung upside down in front of him.

"Calling you what?"


Sombra raised an eyebrow as he tried to understand her meaning, but before he had a chance to say anything he felt a poke at his side from Fluttershy gesturing him to get close. Obeying her request, Fluttershy whispered in his ear as they continued to walk, only to get glares from Twilight.

"Twilight's older brother usually calls her 'Twily', maybe she wants you to call her by that."

"Call her by the nickname her brother uses? Do you not think it is a little too personal?" Sombra asked, but felt a tug at his head bringing him back to the filly's gaze.

"Who is this mare Shining?" Twilight asked almost aggressively, narrowing her eyes at him. The question puzzled him, how could she not know Fluttershy? Could this filly not be Twilight? Or...

"Her name is Fluttershy."

"Is she your marefriend?" Twilight asked out bluntly. Suddenly Sombra felt a deja vu over the question. A quick glance to the now red pegasus beside him and he knew there was very little he could do now to keep things from getting too awkward.

"No little Sparkle. Fluttershy just....wished to assist in helping me find you." He lied. Sombra thought that perhaps the best thing to do right now was to humor whatever the filly was saying, after all, what good would come in confusing the poor thing.

"Shiiniiiiing." Twilight whined at hearing him call her by her last name. Sombra sighed and took a deep breath.

"T-Twily, please calm down, won't you?"

Upon hearing her beloved nickname, Twilight's face lit up in a happy shade of pink, as she smiled and blushed at his voice calling her. "Okay~" She said, getting back onto her comfortable spot on his head, using his mane as a pillow.

Fluttershy couldn't help but giggle at the filly's antics, but mostly at the faint blush developing across Sombra's cheeks. "You're good with kids."

"I pride myself in that fact, though I never expected to have to deal with....a situation like this." He said as he looked up at the humming filly on his head, blissfully unaware of the once scary forest she was in.


"Pinkie? Twilight?" Rarity asked out from the think fog she was in. It was as her friends had described it, completely impossible to see anything at all. Things for silent for a while, making the white mare's mind race to dangerous theories, but after a second, she finally heard some pony say something.

"Oowwie..." Pinkie said as she rubbed her muzzle.

"Pinkie Pie? Is that you?"


"What happened? Are you alright?"

Finally Pinkie stood from where she laid and stretched her neck around. "Y-Yeah, I'm fine. I just tripped over a tree's root....I guess my face wasn't a good cushion." She said with a rather high pitched voice. Rarity giggled at her friend's child like antics and then let out a breath of relief, surely if Pinkie could try to crack a joke, she was okay.

"And Twilight? Do you know where she is?"

"No idea, I don't even know where I am." Pinkie said as she felt around the ground. If she couldn't feel the dirt in on her hooves, she wouldn't be able to know whether she really was standing on the ground or not, everything was just white. Without much thought, Pinkie leaned down and pressed her muzzle on the ground. Again she felt the earth touch her, but even being so close to something, she still could not see the ground. "Oooooh!" Pinkie screamed out. "It was frustrating enough last time!"

"Goodness, how did you and Twilight find yourselves out of this last time?"

"We heard you scream, we just followed your voice until we made it out." Pinkie said, getting back on her hooves.

"And I don't suppose Twilight or Applejack will begin screaming will they?"

"I certainly hope not, that would mean that they're in trouble!"

"Yes, you're right..." Rarity said, now trying to pin point where her friend was with her voice. "I suppose the best thing to do right now is walk and talk so we don' get separated."

"Ooooh, I can talk, I love talking."

"I know Pinkie Pie, I know." Rarity said as she rolled her eyes, a gesture that could not been seen, but Pinkie could definitely hear it in her voice, causing the mare to laugh. "I still remember your 'Cherrychanga and Chimicherry' conversation..."


"Shiiiniiiiiing" Sombra heard the filly on his head whine. "Are we there yeeet?"

"Not yet Twily." He responded, an annoyed grimace on his face.

"How much longer?"

"More than you hope, but less than you dread." Sombra responded without hesitation. Though it was the usual answer to such a question, the studious filly on his head stood her head up as soon as she heard those words.

"What was that?"

"Longer than you hope, as in if you hope for it to be around the corner, it won't be."


"But less than you dread, so if you think it will take forever, it won't be either."

"Ooooh. So how do I know for sure?"

"You simply keep raising the time for your hope, and lowering the time you dread and you'll get to the right answer eventually."

"Roger!" Twilight said as she closed her eyes and placed her hooves to the sides of her head. Small grunts were heard as the filly tried to manually lower and raise her expectations to find the right answer. Sombra's lips began to curve in a smile as he finally had some peace and quiet.

"Wow, how did you do that?" Fluttershy asked as she stared at the filly on his head straining herself trying to get an answer.

"Kids are simple creatures, all you need to do is keep them occupied, and considering Sparkle's current attitude, I guessed she was much more 'answer hungry' as a filly. Just give the girl a question and poof, annoyance gone."

"Hey! Are you talking about me?!" Twilight asked as she leaned over his head, using his horn to keep herself from falling while glaring at him upside down.

"Of course not Twily, I'm talking about a mare called Sparkle, you're not Sparkle are you?"

"No! I'm Twily!"

"Then get back to work, or don't you want to know if we're there yet?"

"Oh! Yeah." Twilight said, as she pulled herself back up and wen't back to thinking. Fluttershy giggled at the two interacting, it was definitely nice to see such a mean looking stallion act so gentle and patient with some pony, but for all his calm interacting.

Just as she gazed at Sombra, Fluttershy began to realize something, something very unique about him. For all his static and stoic expressions, he never seemed like he was zoning out or bored, he always responded when he was spoken to and even though his eyes were almost always half open as if sleepy, he was able to jump in to help if need be. The stallion walking beside her seemed to have multiple thoughts going on at the same time, trying to please and answer every pony while keeping a vigilant eye out for trouble. It was as if a lot of personalities were all blended into one, resulting in the rather stoic stallion. After all, when you mix a wide varieties of colors, you end up with a boring mucky brown or black.

Fluttershy glanced over at Twilight and saw her still thinking, but pausing every once in a while to converse with Sombra. Fillies and colts could always see right though a pony, it must be way they take such a liking to him, they always know he means well and is there to help if he can. The yellow pegasus couldn't help but smile and blush as she realized just what kind of stallion Sombra really was, however, Fluttershy's thoughts were suddenly interrupted when Sombra stretched his fore leg in front of her, causing them all to stop. Everything remained silent for a while as Sombra sniffed the air around him.

"Is everything okay Shining?" Twilight asked, letting her front legs hang on the side of Sombra's head.

"I smell.....vanilla."


"Pinkie Pie?"

"Yes yes, I'm still here."

"Why did you stop talking you scared me!" Rarity said as she continued to look around to no avail.

"Well sorry." Pinkie said rather half winded. "But I can only say so many words without taking a breath." She finished as she began to pout. Again, neither could see each other's actions, but they had known each other for long enough to just know what the other was doing.

"You're right Pinkie, I'm sorry. It's just not being about to see is making me feel rather uneasy."

"I know what you mean, I've tripped like five times already!"

The two mares continued to talk, but to where they weren't sure. It was strange having to feel around each step to keep themselves from losing their balance, and footing. Out of all the bad things that could have happened to Rarity, she had stepped onto a hole that had been dug just a few inches below ground level, but that half a second where she felt no ground beneath her gave her the heart attack of the century.

"Are you okay Rarity?" Pinkie asked out after hearing her scream.

"Yes...." She responded as she tried to slow down her racing heart. "I just...Pinkie?"

As if by some miracle, Rarity began to see a figure in front of her, and second by second the image became clearer. Soon she was able to see her dear friend again and once again in clear view the mare jumped on her pink friend. "Oh Pinkie! I'm so happy I can see you again!"

"But I was right next to you!" Pinkie said, trying to breath from her friend's iron grip.

"That may be true, but I am just so happy we can see!"

And as if it was never there to begin with, the think white fog was gone. No sign or trace of the once hindering mist remained. The duo took a minute to look around before orienting themselves. Though being blinded in white was bad, being still stranded in a dark forest is not much better even with their eye sight returned. Each of them sighed, at least they had their vision back, but a sudden rustling by the bushes startled them.

The two of them jumped back as they saw something come out of the greenery. With a loud grunt, their friend Twilight pushed herself out of the bush with a heavily injured Applejack upon her back.

"Goodness! What happened?" Rarity asked as she ran up to her friends to lean a hoof.

"When I found Applejack she was surrounded by wolves of some kind. They all stayed back in the shadows so I couldn't see....but they must have sneaked an attack on her because when I turned away to attack them she was suddenly hurt." Twilight said as she let her friend down. "And where were you two? I could have really used your help!"

"Sorry! We got stuck in the fog and we kept tripping on stuff so we had to walk slowly." Pinkie said as she tried to help their farm pony friend get more comfortable. Though still conscious, all that came out of her mouth were moans and groans of pain.

"It's alright, at least I got Applejack out of there." Twilight said as she finally had some time to rest. "And the fog?"

"Just now banished." Rarity said as she used her blue magic to soothe the orange mare's wounds. She had done this thousands of times for Sweetie Belle whenever she came home with a scrap or two, but never for an injury like this.

"Here, use these." Pinkie said as she gave her friend a few leaves and some random berries. "It seems like it isn't an open wound, so if we just rub some berries on her it might help her feel better."

"Do you know what kind of berries these are?" Twilight asked from the side, wondering if perhaps using strange berries would be a bad idea.

"Just regular wild raspberries." Pinkie said, taking one of them and eating them in front of her friends. "I use them all the time when I bake cause their so sweet!"

Twilight and Rarity smiled at their friend's actions and felt themselves relax for a bit. It was a much needed relief from the horrible forest they were in, and who else but Pinkie to get every pony smiling. Well, almost every pony. Applejack's eyebrows narrowed as the white mare began to rub the cold berry juice on her wounds. It strangely liberated her of some pain, but Rarity could not help but wonder why.

"Twilight? You say she was attacked by wolves?"

"Yeah, they had us surrounded."

"But I don't see a claw mark or a bite mark. This kind of wound looks like a burn."

"A burn?"

"Yeah, like if some pony would to have shot her with a magical beam." She said while turning to stare at the purple mare.

Twilight sat up straight as she heard her friend speak. "What are you implying Rarity?"

"Not implying anything, just letting you know what kind of injury Applejack has." She responded while going back to her hurting friend. Rarity wasn't convinced in the slightest. The forest had already produced a Sombra double, why not a Twilight as well? Suddenly Applejack coughed as she struggled to speak

"It...It wasn't Twilight who hurt me if that's what yer trying to say..." Applejack said as she tried to stand. She wobbled as her legs tried to sustain her weight. "But Ah can't really tell you what hurt me either. When Twilight attacked the wolves, I suddenly felt something hit me. It came out of no where..." She said as Pinkie assisted her in keeping herself up.

"So you just got hurt out of nowhere?"

"Eeyup." Applejack said as she put her fore leg around Pinkie, but just as she got calm around her friend, she felt her chest clench. Her emerald eyes opened wide as the sickly feeling of being stared by death befell her again. Applejack's voice escaped her as she slowly rose her head to see bright yellow eyes behind Twilight, leering at her from the shadows. Ever so slowly, she raised her hoof to point at the eyes, not able to scream out a warning.

Twilight quickly took the hint and jumped to her hooves, quickly backing up as more and more glaring eyes began to open up around them. Pinkie and Rarity looked around in shock as all the glowing irises made their coat stand on end. They grabbed onto Applejack in a protective hug as Twilight's horn began to spark with energy.

A wooden claw stepped out into the light. The large creature created a small tremor with each step it took, but before long the beast was in full sight, a Timber Wolf, but just any Timber wolf, a Timber wolf so large it seemed to be composed of dozens of other wolves.

"It-It's him..." Applejack managed to say with a chocked up voice.

"It's who?" Rarity asked, but just as the words escaped her she realized what her friend was referring to. The large Timber wolf in front of them was identical to one that had almost killed her when they were trying to trick Spike into thinking he had saved her, only to actually save her when the Timber Wolves had merged into this beast.

Twilight glanced behind her only to find her friends quivering in fear. She took this as a sign to begin the assault and proceeded to blast the Timber Wolf with a charged blast of magic. Twilight smiled as she saw the attack make contact, but it quickly faded as she heard a scream of agony from behind her. Twilight looked back to see Applejack with yet another wound as Rarity and Pinkie tried to help her down to see if they could help.

Again Twilight looked at the Timber wolf as it began to reconstruct itself. She didn't have time to deal with the wolf, her friend needed her help. The alicorn took to the air as her eyes faded white from the magic she was charging in her horn. With a shout, Twilight threw yet another blast of energy at the Timber Wolf.

A loud smoke cloud appeared from the impact and as Twilight landed close to her friends, she gave them a reassuring smile that told them it was all over. They all returned the gesture if it wasn't for debris suddenly clearing to display the Timber Wolf completely intact.

"What!?" Twilight asked out, but before she could say or do anything else Sombra landed on the ground next to her, heavy injured and much of his clothes ripped and stained red from his previous wounds. "S-Sombra? Thank Celestia, we need your help."

"More than you know." Sombra said as he knelt down to try to recover from the impact he had taken. "Do you realize you could have killed Applejack!?"


"I shielded the Wolf from your attack."

"Why would you do that?!"

"Because the wolf and Applejack are one in the same!" He said, getting to his hooves once more.

"What do you mean?" Rarity asked as she continued to try to help Applejack's injuries.

"You've seen it right? The other Sombra?"

"Yeah..." They all collectively said.

"This forest, the reason both Discord and Luna are in charge of it. They use your greatest fears against you. Each one of us was paired up so we could face out fears with a friend."

As Sombra tried to explain what was happening, The bushes behind the large Timber Wolf began to rustle, making every pony, lest for Sombra, suddenly take a defensive stance.

"C-Can we come out now?...." Fluttershy asked as she struggled to keep filly Twilight still. "Twilight here doesn't seem to like me very much...." Every pony's jaw dropped simultaneously at the strange sight of seeing Fluttershy try to keep a filly version of Twilight under control while she pulled on her long pink mane.

"F-Fluttershy! Get away from there!" Applejack shouted out, breaking free from her friend's grip and running over to the yellow mare, shielding her from the Timber Wolf. Twilight wanted to step in to help, but was blocked by Sombra who extended a crystal spike in her path. A quick glance at from him and she knew she wasn't suppose to interfere with...whatever he was planning.

"Now don't you think you can hurt poor Fluttershy!" Applejack shouted out, her fear of the wolf still apparent in her voice, but that fear wasn't about to stop her from defending her friend. Her hooves shook as she held Fluttershy behind her, but her eyes stared back at the glaring eyes of the wolf, determination and will power the only things keeping her from collapsing on her own weight.

The Timber Wolf slowly leaned close to the duo and sniffed the farm pony before standing back up, its towering height at an intimidating altitude. Applejack gulped as she expected to be attacked, but instead the Wolf cracked and then broke into shards of light. Sombra smiled as he thoughts were proven right.

"It is just as I said, our greatest fears."

At once all the remaining mare ran over to Applejack to see if she was okay, and once a few brief exchange of words, embraced the poor mare in a tight hug. They were all very glad she was okay, but more than that, proud of what she had done.

"Shiiining!" The filly Twilight shouted as she managed to escape from Fluttershy and run over to the dark stallion. At the mention of her older brother, Twilight looked over to the filly who was in the process of climbing Sombra.

"Sombra, who is that?" She asked, not really wanting to admit to her own theory.

"Can't you tell? She's you."

"And why is a filly version of me here?!"

"I should ask you that." He said, picking up the small pony and placing her on his head. "This here is your worst fear it seems."

"What?!" Twilight screamed out. "And how did you come to that conclusion?!"

"Well, like I said, we were paired up with a friend for them to help us through our worst fear. If the second Sombra was mine, the Timber Wolf was Applejack's, that means that this is your's....unless it's Pinkie's." He said, glancing at the ever so excited mare who was peeking over Twilight.

"Twilight! You were so cuuuuuuuute as a filly!" She shouted out in a squee.

"And I doubt that's the case."

"Shining..." The filly on top of Sombra's head began to whine. "Who are all these mares?...."

"Friends." He responded.

"You don't need all these friends. I do just fine by myself and my books!" The filly proclaimed. As she said that, however, adult Twilight's lowered, a shadow cast over her eyes. Sombra looked over at the mare and decided it was best to continue to conversation with the filly to see what affect it would have on Twilight.

"Surely you jest? You like having friends don't you?"

"Nope! I don't need them."

A brief moment of silence past as Twilight continued to hang her head. She then took a deep breath and looked up at the filly atop Sombra's head.

"Say, Twilight was it?"

"Yes!" The filly yelled out, waving her hoof in the air.

"I know that you won't believe me, but at one point in the future you will make friends, lots of them."

"Really? I don't think so."

"Yeah, you will, and when you do, you need to treasure them." Twilight said as she turned to look at her friends all looking at her with a smile. "Because they will be the most important thing in the world to you."

The filly took a moment to think. She wanted to argue, but as she opened her mouth to rebuttal, she heard Sombra clear his throat. She took one glance at the stallion and smiled nervously. "Okay okay. If I ever make friends, I'll make sure to treasure them!" She said with a smile. Suddenly, the filly began to glow white and then shattered into light fragments, leaving behind the mirror like shards slowly falling on the ground around them. Every pony remained quiet as Twilight took a deep breath.

"When I was a filly, my greatest fear was losing my big brother since he was the only pony I talked to. As a mare, my greatest fear was disappointing Princess Celestia when she gave me some assignment. And now, as a Princess, my greatest fear is neglecting my friends, the ones that have stood by me for so long." She said as she looked back at the mares now gathering around her, her eyes tearing up. They all hugged each other and as they made contact, the forest around them began to disappear, they all shielded their eyes at the bright sun now high above the.

"Congratulations every pony!" Discord shouted out as he made confetti and balloons appear out of nowhere. "You all survived the Test of Courage!" He shouted joyfully, blissfully unaware of how terrible the sound of 'you survived' actually sounded.

"Twilight!" Spike shouted as he ran over to the group in the middle of their hug. "Is everything alright? What happened?!"

Twilight who wiped away a few left over tears, cleared her throat to speak. "Oh, it's nothing Spike. We just had to go up against our greatest fears."

"What?! You said Celestia was overseeing the test!" Spike accused the draconequus. "They all look like they've gone through-"

"Tartarous?" Sombra finished for him, censoring out the string of curse words Spike would have said in his out rage.


"Oh but I was." A soft voice said as mist began to set back in. Every pony began to freak out over the blinding fog coming back, but quickly calmed down when it all gathered to one side, transforming into their beloved Sun Goddess.

"Princess Celestia!" Twilight shouted as she ran up to the tall princess. "You were the fog?"

"Why yes, I was suppose to make sure you all kept to yourselves and stayed near your own group's fears....but things got complicated half way through." Celestia said as she glanced over at Sombra who held a still expression. "Very complicated."

"Who cares!" Discord popped in, grabbing both of them and picking them up in a hug. "They still passed!" He yelled as he began to use a party noise blower. "It is time to celebrate right?"

"Hold thyself, there is still a question of most importance we must ask." Luna said, causing the chaos lord to stop dead in his tracks.

"And what would that be?" Twilight asked. The question made Celestia giggle as she leaned close.

"Did you find your anchor?"

The question was a surprise to the purple mare, mostly because she had forgotten completely about finding an anchor. She began to think about what her answer was, but as she thought, she was hit by an epiphany. With a quick turn to her friends, Twilight teleported herself between them and held them all together. "Yes! My friends are my anchor!" She shouted proudly.

Celestia walked to where Sombra stood and gesture her hoof in Twilight's direction. "So what do you think Sombra? Is that a good enough anchor?"

Sombra remained stoic as he stared at the mares. Slowly Twilight began to walk up to the stallion staring down at her and gulped as she waited for an answer.

"You are easily swayed by emotion, you can't seem to think straight when frustrated, and you almost got Applejack killed as a consequence." He said, his eyes never breaking contact with Twilight's. As he spoke, the mare's ears flattened against her head, taking his criticism quite harshly. "You have a lot to learn. We start tomorrow at dawn, and you must have one of your friends present or else they can't help you as your anchor." He finished.

As if a switch had flipped, Twilight's mood changed to the polar opposite and jumped up in happiness. "You mean it!? We can actually start the lesson!?"

"Don't make me change my mind." Sombra said as he looked down at the overly excited mare.

"Hehe, sorry." Twilight said as she laughed nervously, slowly backing up to her friends to rejoice. Sombra let out a puff of air as he saw the mares interact with each other. It was certainly a lively sight.

"Oh and Sombra?" Celestia said as she began to walk away.


"Don't forget that the Gala is coming up really soon." She said with a giggle.

"...Tartarous Damn it...."

30. And Then, There Were Six

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"You don't mind do you?" Rarity asked as she placed down her sewing machine in the middle of the library. The alicorn who was currently pacing back and forth across the wooden floor suddenly looked over at her, just now registering her question.

"Oh. Of course not. You might as well get some work done while you're here." Twilight said as she went back to pacing. She was nervous since it was almost time for Sombra to teach her some dark magic. Rarity had volunteered to be present as her anchor and since she didn't really have to do anything to perform that task, she brought some supplies so she could work while Twilight learned.

"You seem nervous darling." The white mare said as she began to sort out her supplies, placing different kinds of fabrics on the ground as she began to make plans on how to get started.

"M-Maybe a little. It's just that this is huge. I would be the first pony to learn dark magic from a teacher, every pony else just stumbles across it and either fall into it's dark grip or reject it all together." Twilight said, recalling what she researched on unicorns who had used dark magic at one point or another.

"But didn't you say Princess Celestia used dark magic once?" Rarity asked, curious as to what the answer was. If that was the case, Celestia did not become consumed nor shun it all together.

"I-I don't know how Celestia knows dark magic. I didn't ask."

"The answer to that is simple." Sombra said as he walked in, bags under his eyes from lack of sleep. He carried some notes and other small supplies to help with the coming lecture. "That is my fault."

"You're fault?"

"Yes..." Sombra said, setting everything down. "During the fight I had with the two sisters, I managed to hit them with my dark magic and made them see their worst fear, tainting them with a stigma."

"Wait...What?" Both mares asked out, confused by his 'simple' explanation.

With a sigh, Sombra turned to them and began to make things clearer. "Sparkle, I told you about how I acquired my own dark magic right?"

"Yes. You learned from a tome."

"I made a pact. Something that made my very essence darkness. So, how come you can use dark magic?"

"Oh...I guess I never really thought about that....." Twilight said, looking down as she thought about how she was able to mimic Celestia's small demonstration of dark magic.

Using his own red colored magic, Sombra rearranged the library into a classroom like room. Sombra stood behind a large desk and a chalkboard with wheels was placed behind him. A smaller desk was placed in front of his. The tall stallion gestured his hoof to Twilight to sit down. "Lets start from the beginning shall we? After I am done with lecture, I will ask you again how you used dark magic."

Twilight nodded intently as she took out her notebook and quill, a smile upon her face. Sombra began to levitate one of the chalk-stick and drew two ponies on the board.

"Every pony knows there are two kinds of magic, light and dark." Sombra began, labeling each pony he drew as either light or dark. "The major difference between them, is where the power comes from for each. For light magic, the caster has to draw strength form within themselves to use spells." As he spoke, Sombra began to draw arrows coming out from the pony labeled 'light', showing power source extending outward. "But for dark magic, the power comes from the outside." He said as he began to draw arrows from the outside of the pony and pointed them inward.

"From the outside?"

"Yes. My dark magic comes from consuming the fear and hatred from other ponies and then converting that into power." He said, finishing his explanation on the basics of dark magic. Sombra turned around to the writing mare who was busy at work. "So I ask you again, how did you use dark magic?"

"I must have drained some pony's fear.." Twilight said, thinking as she slowly raised her head to look at her teacher, waiting for a more accurate answer. "But who could I had drained the fear from?"

"Hi Rarity!" Spike shouted as he ran to greet his crush, hearts instead of pupils in his eyes.

"Oh hello Spiky-poo!" Rarity said back, lifting her gaze from her work. "How are you this morning?"

As the two conversed, Twilight had a horrible revelation. She realized that she had used Spike's fear at the moment of the Crystal Empire crisis to fuel her dark magic enough to use a spell or two to open up Sombra's passage ways. She quickly looked back at her teacher as he gave her a silent nod.

"But...How?" She asked, concerned for her friend's well being. "I thought it was painful or something...when you drained fear and such."

"Ask Fluttershy if she felt any pain during my encounters with her. That mare is a walking power source for my dark magic, but she never realized. Fear is an instinct, nothing more."

"Well, that still doesn't explain how you needed to read a tome to begin using dark magic and I only needed to see Princess Celestia use it."

"Remember what I said about a stigma? Well, for starters, what is a stigma?"

"A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or pony." Twilight said, perfectly reciting the dictionary definition.

"Now tell me, why are foals afraid of Nightmare Moon?"

"Uhh..." The mare said to herself as she thought about the question. "Because she's scary?"

"Wrong." Sombra said, the word stabbing at Twilight's chest as if pierced by a dagger. "A foal isn't afraid of any pony unless given a reason. Sure, a 'scary' appearance may help, but lets say a filly who heard of the old pony tale of Nightmare Moon were to meet her. Surely she could run and scream no? But what of a filly who lived their who life surrounded by similar looking ponies, dark and with pointed teeth. Meeting Nightmare Moon would be nothing to be frightened about."

"So what you're saying is...."

"That fear is something passed on from one to another. If one pony is scared, others will follow suit. The stigma, is that once one knows of dark magic, it is easy for the darkness to enter them."

"So the Princess could use dark magic after seeing you, and me after seeing Celestia?"

"Correct, but unlike me, you two can only use simple kind of dark magic. I am an embodiment of darkness, meaning that my control over the dark arts are many times greater than any normal pony can do over three life times."

Twilight quickly began to jot things down in her notebook as Sombra began to erase the board. As the teacher and student began to go back to their 'class' structure, Rarity turned to the dragon as a sudden question popped into her head.

"Say, I thought Sombra was going to actually teach her dark magic, not give lectures about it."

"Oh, he was until he asked me about Twilight. He wanted to know what kinda of mare she was when it came to study. I told him that lecture and note cards were her best method of learning, so he stayed up all night preparing them for her lesson." Spike said as he reached for broom to start sweeping nearby. "That guy, I gotta tell ya. Sombra is a really cool stallion when you get to know him."

"Indeed." She said as she returned her gaze at the stallion. But as her eyes began to drift from Sombra to his clothing, a sudden sense of dread began to befall the poor mare. "WHAT HAPPENED!?" Rarity screamed as she dashed over to Sombra who was shocked at the sudden outburst.

"Is something the matter?" He asked as Rarity grabbed him by his vest...or what was left of it. To his own obliviousness, Sombra's outfit had taken quite a beating during the Test of Courage. His current attire was riddled with holes and tears, not to mention the blood stains from Sombra's healed wounds. The Jacket was barely together at all, it was a miracle it could sustain itself over Sombra's shoulders, let alone keep the sleeves in place.

"Your outfit! What happened to it?!" Rarity shouted out as the clothes she had worked so hard on were in shambles right in front of her.

"Umm....You lot happened.." He said as his eyes gave an annoyed glace at the mares. "I have been in more life threatening situations since I moved to Ponyville than in all my years as King in the Crystal Empire."

"Oh, this just won't do!" The white mare said as she began to take Sombra's outfit off him. "This is all beyond repair!"

"Ahem." Twilight cleared her throat, trying to get her friend's attention. It was no use, however, Rarity was much too devastated to hear her. "Ahem!"

Hearing his student's rather annoyance of Rarity's actions, Sombra decided to simple take off his outfit to give to the white mare. Without another word, she took it right to her spot of supplies as she rapidly looked for ways or any method at all to restore the cloth she now held.

"Now, where was I?" Sombra said as he tried to return to his lecture, but as he spoke, he noticed he didn't exactly have his student's attention. "Sparkle?" He asked as the mare stared blankly at him. "Sparkle? Are you alright?"

"Huh? Yeah! It's just..." She said, almost blushing as she turned away. "You look really strange without any clothes on."

"Says the mare who walks around without any clothes on a regular basis."

"But you don't! Pinkie said you specifically did not want to be without an outfit because you didn't want to walk around like a commoner."

As Sombra heard her speak, his eyes lost the reflective shine, dulling at the remembrance of his words. "I did say that...didn't I?" He asked out to no pony in particular. He turned and took a moment of thought, causing a small amount of distress for the alicorn.

"Sombra?" Twilight asked out, but he was too deep in his thoughts. Sombra had forgotten about his previous attitude towards people below his own rank. The dark influence his magic had on him had made him forget his humble beginnings in the Crystal Empire. He sighed and turned to Twilight.

"Now, lets go over the history of dark magic, as far as I can recall anyway." He said as he placed the chalk back on the board. Twilight wasn't sure what to think of his sudden change of mood, but shrugged it off and began to take notes once again.

The first day of teaching darkness, Sombra took Spike's advice and only lectured. Twilight sure was into it at least. It was a familiar environment to her, one she could easily fall into as an introduction of dark magic. She learned a lot, the basics anyway. The how's and why's or dark magic. The next day, however, was the big try out of dark magic. This time, the two met out in the same clearing in the outskirt of Ponyville.

"So ya'll gonna practice out here?" Applejack asked as she placed a hoof to her forehead, shielding her eyes from the sun as she glanced around the clearing. Not a soul for miles, just a quiet almost serene atmosphere.

"Yes. This place is perfect. Cut away from distractions and other ponies whose emotions can sway dark magic easily." Sombra said as he walked out a few meters, gesturing his student to come close as well white the farm pony only watched. "Now, I don't believe you should begin to drain fear from ponies just yet, so I will give you some of my own dark magic."

"You can do that?" Twilight asked, her eyes open wide.

"I can do anything." He said with a smile, almost teasingly.

"Very funny."

"No, I'm quite serious. Like I said, when it comes to dark magic, the fact that I am mostly made of a dark essence gives me domain over most aspects of dark magic. So if I wanted to, I can take and give as I pleased." He said as he stepped close to the mare who gulped as she noticed their close proximity. "Now close your eyes." Sombra said as he leaned close.

Twilight did as she was told, closing her eyes tightly and tensing up as she felt something touch her horn. Sombra had gently placed his own spiked horn against hers as his eyes erupted in purple flames; his dark magic began to drain out of him, and into her. The process continued for little over a minute, and though that is technically not very much, it felt like an eternity to Twilight since a chilling sensation spread across her body as the dark magic surged through her.

"Should Ah go? Ya'll seem like ya need a moment alone." Applejack said with a grin upon her face as Twilight's own face flushed red.


"Ah don't blame ya Twi, Sombra has saved your neck a couple of times. It's only natural to develop feelings fer him."

"He only saved me once!" She shouted back.

Sombra simply stood still as his eyes began to look annoyed at the mares arguing in front of him. He emitted a sigh as he waited for them to calm down so he could proceed with his class. Something that took surprisingly longer than he expected. It became apparent that if he didn't put a stop to it himself, they would never end. They had some how branched of into different topics.

"...And that's why you don't plant trees in the fall!" Twilight finished as her friend began to ponder over what she had said.

"Ahem." Sombra said rather loudly. "I could start a new class about apple trees if this is too boring for you." He said as he looked down at the embarrassed mares.

"Sorry." Twilight said as she quickly went back to standing in front of him.

"Now, let's start with something simple shall we?" He said as he raised a crystal pillar a few yards away from them. "Shoot it down."

Twilight looked back and forth between the black crystal and Sombra, confused as to why her first lesson was that of a magic bolt. It was much too simple, even if they were starting from the bottom. She brushed off her thoughts and did as she was told, pointing her horn at the pillar before sending out a blast of energy, quickly breaking it into pieces.

"Done." Twilight said as she looked back at her teacher, but his face did not seem to agree with her.

"So, what did you do exactly?" Sombra asked her.

"I uh...blasted the pillar with the dark magic you gave me?" She said, though a little unsure of she had said the right answer or not, but it was quickly made clear.

"No, you blasted the pillar with your own magic." He said as he levitated the crystal shards that had dispersed over to them, showing her the purple stains from her magic. "Dark magic is black and green," He said to clarify.

"Then how come yer eyes are green, red, and purple? Not to mention the red aura you use to levitate stuff." Applejack asked as she came close to have a look at shard they were holding.

"My eyes turned red and my pupils thinned out when I made the contract with the tome of dark magic, magical aura is the color of one's eyes." Sombra said, answer one of her questions. "As for why the flame and sclera color, that I do not know the answer to. I suppose it would be same as asking why the sky is blue. It just is, even if there is a scientific reason." He said, adding in that last part as he saw Twilight open her mouth, no doubt to tell them all why the sky is blue.

"So what color eyes did ya have before?"


"Really!? That's kinda hard to picture..." Applejack said as she took a step back to try to imagine him with different colored eyes.

"Now..." Sombra said, redirecting his attention back to his student. "Sparkle, you need to learn how to switch from the light based magic you are used to, to using to dark."

"O-Okay...I'll try." Twilight said as she saw another pillar extend form the ground. She dug her hooves into the ground as she tried to bring out her dark magic within her. She grunted as sweat began to run down her forehead from how much she was exerting herself. Slowly, a small flame began to spark from the corner of her eyes. A small smile perked at the sides of Sombra's lips as he saw her beginning to bring out dark magic. Twilight slowly opened her eyes, her eyes flashing from purple and white to red and green, going back and forth as she tried to gain control of the dark magic. But to the stallion's concern, Twilight's pupils were beginning to thin out like his.

Sombra furrowed his brows as he waved his hoof over at Applejack, telling her to come closer. Once there, he gently pushed her close enough to Twilight so she could be in her field of vision. Still struggling, Twilight looked over at Applejack who was a little worried about her.

"Come on sugarcube, you can do it!" The orange mare cheered her on. Seeing her friend filled Twilight with a new kind of strength, her pupils going back to circled, no longer thinned and her eyes staying now green and red without much more struggle of which scheme dominated. She began to pant as she began to rest from forcing her magic out like so. Sombra nodded at her and then pointed at the pillar. With a weak smile, Twilight felt proud of herself and proceeded to send out a bolt of energy, this time a black and green blast.

"Woohooo!" Twilight screamed out as she jumped around Sombra and Applejack. "Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!" She shouted out repeatedly. "I did it!"

"Yes Sparkle, you did very well." Sombra said as he looked over at what was left of the crystal pillar....which was very little. He had transferred over a very small amount of dark magic to the mare, yet she was able to use such a strong blast of energy, much more than he could have expected from her. "You are indeed a natural..." He whispered to himself.

"Okay! So what's next?" Twilight asks excitedly.

"Now we go home and rest."

"What!? But we just begun!"

"Yes, and you took in dark magic. This was not magic you yourself drained and transferred to yourself, it is foreign magic, and it could have complicated effects on you if you're not careful, it can be really dangerous." He said as he began to make his way back.

"So why didn't you just teach me how to drain magic for myself?" She asked out, almost accusingly.

"Because then you could get as much dark magic as you wanted....and train in secret." Sombra said, throwing her sharp look. She gulped as their eyes made contact.

"I-I wouldn't use dark magic without you around." She tried to say calmly.

"Thing is Sparkle, I don't trust you when it comes to stuff like this. I had a chat with Celestia. She told me of how you would sneak off into the royal library at night to read books about magic. How you would become obsessed with learning and if she wasn't careful and almost forceful with your breaks, you would collapse from lack of food or sleep."

"I was filly back then, I didn't know any better!"

"I'm not taking any chances." He said, looking forward as he walked, the mare following him though not happy. "That's the exact reason you wanted me to teach you. So we would be 100% sure things would not go wrong, and so I will continue to give you lessons each day in moderation until I believe you are ready to drain your own magic."

"That isn't fair."

"Nor is having your only form of salvation become your own downfall, becoming a tyrant, then encased in ice for a thousand years. Do you wish to meet the same fate I did?"


"Good." He said, bringing the conversation to a close. Both of them continued to walk side by side, but as they did, Applejack shouted at them from where they were before.

"So does this mean Ah can go home now?"


Twilight didn't say anything as they walked into town, whether that was out of frustration or agreement with him, Sombra did not know, nor did he exactly care. He did not want her using any more dark magic until he was sure she would be alright, and no matter how angry she got with him, that was not going to change.

"He lives here?! With Twilight?!" They heard a far off voice shout out followed by some sort of struggle. The duo traded glances for a second before continuing their way to their home, and they prepared to turn the corner to the library, they witnessed a rather strange and peculiar sight.

Pinkie was currently trying to pull back a pegasus, her hooves slipping on the ground and leaving holes in the dirt as she continued to back pedal against the pony flapping her wings to move forward. Both were struggling to move in either direction as Pinkie bit onto a rainbow colored tail which by the looks of it, was never properly groomed.

"Rainbow Dash!" Twilight screamed out as she flew towards her friend. Being at a stand still made her a sitting duck for the sudden tackle the purple mare gave her as they both rolled on the ground a little before Twilight finally got her in a hug. "It's so good to see you!"

Pinkie, who had let go of Rainbow's tail just in time so she wouldn't be tossed around, sat as she saw the two interact, though quickly shifted her eyes to Sombra who walked up to her.

"I take it that is the sixth element that was missing yesterday?" He asked as he helped the mare to her hooves.

"Yeah, that's Rainbow Dash, I'm pretty sure you can guess why." Pinkie said with a giggle as her pegasus friend suddenly dashed out of Twilight's grip on her.

"Woah woah, easy on the hugs." She said as she came back down to ground level. "But it's nice to see you too!" She said with a smile.

"How was the WonderBolt Academy?" Twilight asked as she got back to her hooves to properly greet her friend.

"It was awesome, but then again, anything is awesome when I'm around. But enough about that!" Rainbow Dash said as she grabbed onto the purple mare's shoulders. "I heard that he is here."


"You know, that tyrant unicorn guy that wanted to take over the Crystal Empire but we stopped him! I heard he's back and plotting revenge! Pinkie said he even made the library his home, so that means he kicked you out right? Where is he? I'll kick his butt and get your house back!"

"That 'unicorn guy' is right here." Sombra said as Pinkie fell to the ground laughing. He himself wanted to at least chuckle, after all, this mare proclaimed she could 'kick his butt'.

"So it you huh?" Rainbow Dash said as she flew over to him in a flash, now face to face with him. Though Sombra's expression remained stoic, Rainbow was with serious eyes and a deep frown. "Give Twilight her house back right now!"

Sombra's only response was to lean to the side and look at Twilight before asking, "Sparkle, who's home is this?"

"Uh, well, I suppose it mine, Spike's, and for the last month or so, your's too."

"What?!" Rainbow shouted out in shock. "Are you telling me you've allowed him to live with you?!"

"Well, yeah. He came to Ponyville to be reformed. Princess Celestia wanted him to stay with me since I could be close by in case anything happened."

"And you just agreed? Just like that?!"


Rainbow Dash was dumbfounded, her mouth wide open as she tried to comprehend what she had just said. "Wait wait wait, did you say 'last month?"

"Yeah. Sombra has been living here in Ponyville for a while now."

"And I wasn't told about this why?!"

"You were at the WonderBolt Academy."

"Oh oh oh oh oh oh!" Pinkie said as she jumped up and down, holding her hoof up in the air. "Ask who is in charge of reforming him! Go ahead, ask!"

Rainbow Dash slapped her hoof to her forehead as she let out a sigh. "Who Pinkie..."


Sombra looked at the three mares and wasn't sure if he should be enjoying their almost comical interactions, or angry that they are taking his reformation process as child's play. Still, if there was one thing he knew about this sixth element of harmony, was that now that she had returned to Ponyville, his life was about to become much more interesting. For better or for worse.

31. Pranks!

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"What?!" Pinkie screamed as she heard her friend's idea. It had been a few days since Rainbow Dash had returned to Ponyville and she was not liking Sombra one bit. Always butting heads, but it had been mostly one sides as Sombra simply brushed her off.

"Come on, lets prank Sombra." Rainbow said, a deadly grin upon her face.

"You're kidding right? You wanna prank the ex tyrant of the Crystal Empire? The Sorcerer of dark magic? The pony who went head to head with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna? Are you crazy?!" Pinkie responded, still unable to believe her friend would even suggest it.

"Of course I'm serious! I mean think about it. How do you know this guy is really reformed? What if he is just biding his time, waiting for us to lower our guard and then strike when we least expect it? If we catch him in his lie now, we can avoid being blind sided!" The blue pegasus said, trying to find a convincing purpose to her suggestion.

"I don't know...."

"Come oooon Pinkie, I know you want to see Sombra break out of that stupid serious look he always has. Doesn't it annoy you? That he doesn't ever smile or laugh? I'm sure a good prank will get those things out of him if he is reformed, and if he isn't then we would have caught him in his lie."

Pinkie began to think. Sure Sombra never did anything other than keep his stoic expression, and every time he did show emotion, it was usually to cry or frown. It would be nice to see him laugh and smile for once. He had been the only pony she couldn't get a smile out of, mostly because she didn't really try to do so, Sombra didn't exactly seem he'd like it, though that was when had just met. He was different now.

"Okay. Let's try out a small prank, but nothing too bad, we don't want to cause trouble."

"So something to just test the water huh? I've got just the thing!"


"So now I have to meditate?"

"Yes, you've gone through several rounds of training where I feed you dark magic. You need to cleanse your body of the foreign magic within or it can mess with your own magic, and perhaps other things." Sombra said as she circled around the purple mare. He had cleared out a small room in the library used some of his magic to dim the light, creating a cozy dark place for her.

"I'm telling you it would be better if you just taught me how to drain dark magic on my own."

"Not yet Sparkle."

She sighed as she heard him say those words for the twelfth time since their training had begun. It had been hard on her having to hold back so much, hard and frustrating. Twilight wanted to engross herself in her studies like she usually did, but she also understood where he was coming from. Still, there was a difference between moderation and just being slow, and right now Twilight began to think that it was the latter.

Brushing the thought out of her mind, Twilight closed her eyes and got back to her assignment, meditation. She wasn't new to it, she hard learned how to do this already from Zecora and done it a few times with Sombra, but it only meant it was something she already knew, meaning it was no challenge for her. And if it was no challenge meant it was boring to her.

"I'll leave you to it." Sombra said as he began to make his way.

"Where are you going?"

"Just to get some water." He said as he opened the door out, light shined in and made Twilight shut her eyes at the sudden intensity. Sombra quickly stepped out and closed the door behind him. As he did however, he staggered to the wall. His legs could barely hold his own weight from how tired he was. Though he wasn't just exhausted from late nights and teaching, he was drained of power. It had been much too long since he acquired a good amount of dark magic and was running on fumes.

He would never let Twilight know how weak he felt, after all, it would not help his image, but more than that, it would not go with the facade he puts up. Sombra took a deep breath and regained some control over his limbs, quickly getting back into proper posture, head high and chest out.

As he walked to the kitchen Sombra pondered on ways he could perhaps gain some more dark energy for him to maintain himself on, at least until the Gala. He thought of perhaps going to visit Fluttershy, after all she was the main pony he could feed off of.

No...That mare has long ago stopped being afraid of me. And I'd rather not complicate things by visiting some pony for no reason.

Sombra made it to the sink and used his red aura magic to open the faucet, getting a cup he allowed the water to fill the glass container.

I could go and scare a filly or two, that would give me enough energy for a while. He thought as he took a drink of the now full cup. No...that would leave a bad taste in my mouth, not to mention ponies would not let me near their kids again, and I do so enjoy being around those children.

Sombra let out a sigh of satisfaction as the water began to hydrate his throat. A small victory over the sicking feeling his body was experiencing.

It's no use. There isn't any way of absorbing dark magic without hurting some pony else. Looks like I really don't belong in a peaceful world after all. Sombra thought as filled his glass again and began to make his way back to his student but as he walked, he heard soft whispers.

"This will be so awesome!" Rainbow Dash said as she placed a bucket of water on the door hinge. A simple trap for whoever opened the door, the sudden movement would cause the bucket to collapse onto the poor victim and get soaked.

"I don't know..." Pinkie said, still very unsure of how everything would work out if Sombra fell to their prank.

"It will be hilarious, just you wait."

Sombra quickly and quietly made his way to Pinkie's side and took a sip of his water. "Pulling a prank?"

The sudden voice shocked the mare, but remained surprisingly quiet. She looked back and forth between Sombra and Rainbow who was too thrilled with the prank she set up to see that their victim was already outside.

"Uh...Yeah..." Pinkie said in a hushed voice. "Just a friendly prank on a friend." She said with a nervous smile, hoping that Sombra would not be too angry with them. To her surprise, Sombra simply took another drink of his water and sat calmly next to her.

"So you ready Pinkie?" Rainbow Dash asked without looking back at her.

"Uh, yeah."

"Okay, here goes." The pegasus said as she began to clear her throat. "Help Help! Please some pony! I need some help!" She shouted out as loud as she could. A large amount of cluttering was heard as the sound of hoof steps were heard echoing closer, tripping over themselves and bumping into objects. Finally The moment of truth came and the door in front of them swung open.

What happened next was as everypony expected, the one who opened the door was drenched with water as the bucket fell on their head, a horn poking out from having pierced through the bucket. Rainbow began to laugh hysterically as Pinkie sat, a face of terror staring at the alicorn.

"Bahahahaha!" Rainbow continued to laugh, oblivious to the fact that it wasn't Sombra who was pranked. "You probably don't like your horn now do you?" She asked as she poked at the purple horn sticking out, laughing at how it was stuck but as she pointed out, she realized it wasn't the red spike she was expecting.

"Rainbow Dash...." Twilight said in a soft voice that had some held back anger. "What were you thinking!?" She shouted, her anger tearing the bucket of her head, her eyes erupting into purple flames. Rainbow Dash fell to the ground as the flames illuminated much of the room, purple lights shining on every pony's face.

Rainbow Dash, a little frightened from the flames, but more so at seeing her friend angry, took back to the air and flew out through a window, quickly leaving every pony behind. Sombra proceeded to chuckle at the mare's reaction and slowly made his way to his student.

"Now now Sparkle, you should calm down."

"Were you in on this!?"

"Of course not, just happen to be at the right place at the right time." Sombra said as he walked up to his student. He licked his hoof and put out the small flame that Twilight had ignited on her mane by her outburst. "You really must be more careful, with your recent training in dark magic, your emotions are unstable and can set your flames off."

Twilight narrowed her eyes at him, not exactly in a pleasant mood for a lecture. She, however, took a deep breath and tried to calm herself, exiting the room to go dry off and get back to her meditation, leaving just Sombra and Pinkie to themselves.

"Pinkamena, if you wish to prank Sparkle, do inform me before hand. Your friend might have some trouble with her temper while she is getting used to her magic." He said as he began to walk away, but stopped at the door's opening. "But I must admit, it was rather comical." He said before finally walking off to get a mop to clean up the puddle of water.

Pinkie was in shock, mostly because she wasn't exactly sure how to react. Sombra might have a sense of humor after all, he did laugh when Twilight was soaked. Well, it was a chuckle, but that was probably the best she'll ever get out of him. Pinkie grinned to herself as she left the library in search of her rather frightened friend. For the first time, Fluttershy wasn't the most scared pegasus in Ponyville.

With Twilight back to her 'studies', Sombra was left to clean after Rainbow's mess. Using his magic, he gently brushed the mop he found back and forth on the ground. Though it was a simple task, it was still tedious for him, still very weak from lack of any dark magic in his system. Still, Sombra wasn't about to let something so trivial mess with his everyday life. If he was to take part of being a modern pony, he could not have a 'full tank' all the time, if at all.

"You don't have to do that." Spike said as he walked to the tall stallion. "That's my job around here!" He said with a small laugh. Sombra blinked a few times, just now registering that someone had spoken with him.

"Huh?" He asked blankly.

"I said, I do the cleaning around here, you don't have to worry about this stuff." Spike said as he grabbed the floating mop, taking over for Sombra. "I've lived here with everypony for over a year, I'm used to all the mess they make."

"R-Right." He said, leaning on the wall close by. To any pony seeing him, it would have just looked like he was 'acting cool' by the stance he took, his legs crossed over at the opposite hoof and the shoulder pressed against the wooden wall, but Sombra was simply trying to keep his balance. "So what should I do then? Sparkle is busy with her meditation and no pony seems to be coming to the library today."

"Jeez, you'd think you and Twilight switched places. You help out here whenever you can here in the library and she broods in a corner about dark magic now."

"...Are you saying that everypony thought I was brooding?"

"Uh...How about you go out into town?" Spike said, avoiding the question. "It isn't good to stay indoors all day."

"There isn't a reason to go out."

"Then make one. In Ponyville something is always happening. Just explore a little and see what you can find." Spike said as he began to move away, mopping where he saw water. "When you first got here all you wanted to do was leave the library, now we can't get you to step outside."

"When I first got here...I wasn't all me."

"Yeah, you were all brooding."

Sombra narrowed his eyes in annoyance at the smirking dragon. Slowly he got back to his hooves and made his way out. The small drake only grinned as the dark stallion left the library. He probably would never admit it, but he cared what others thought of him, and Spike knew very well that he was itching to break the routine of the everyday. Two birds with one stone.


"He planned it!" Rainbow Dash shouted from her cloud up high.

"Oh come on Dashie, you don't have to be embarrassed that you were scared!" Pinkie teased from below.

"I wasn't scared! I...I was just retreating because the plan didn't work out!" Rainbow said as she poked her head from the cloud, her face red, thought whether it was of anger of embarrassment, no pony would ever know.

"Well, Sombra thought it was funny, so I guess he isn't trying to fool us after all." Pinkie said as she turned on her heels to walk away, but she had barely taken a single step when Rainbow Dash flew and landed in front of her.

"No way! He was probably just laughing cause he enjoys pony's suffering! We have to prank him again!"

"What? Again?"

"Yeah! And I've got a better prank in mind this time!" Rainbow said as she rubbed her hooves together while laughing to herself. Pinkie felt sweat run down her head as she struggled to maintain a nervous smile on her face. Any pony would say that she was the 'bad guy', if they saw her acting like that.


"Good Morning!" A mare said as she waved at Sombra. The tall stallion waved back, though rather hesitant to do so. Things were just s strange to him still.

"How's you day so far?" A stallion asked as he walked past Sombra.

"Just fine thank you."

"Care for a free sample?" Another mare asked as she waved out a treat she was selling.

"Perhaps at another time."

Sombra had immediately regretted falling into the small dragon's reverse psychology in leaving the library, after all, the main reason he did not want to go was because these towns folk were strange in their behavior towards him. One day they hate and avoid him, the next they give favors for his tickets, and now they all seem to have forgotten all about them.

Sombra sighed as he himself wished he had forgotten about those Tartarous forsaken tickets. They have been nothing but a headache since they appeared. He couldn't just choose not to go either, now that he is so low on dark magic he needs to go. He was almost too lost in thought to realize he was in a collision course with a mare. Breaking out of his daze, he stopped just as he was centimeters away from bumping into her.

"A thousand pardons, I was lost in thought." Sombra apologized, and began to walk around the mare until he heard her voice.

"Oh it's quite alright, what were you so lost in thought about?" Fluttershy asked with a smile. Sombra took a few steps back as he realized who he was speaking to.

"Uh...I was just thinking about the Gala..." He responded with a half truth. Not really willing to speak of his dread about the upcoming decision he needs to make. Both stood quiet for a minute, and though everything was alright on Fluttershy's part, Sombra was feeling rather awkward with just standing around saying nothing, but for better or for worse, he was suddenly knocked off his feet by what seemed like a rainbow.

"Umpf!" Was the only sound that came out of Sombra as the wind was knocked out of him. Rainbow Dash, who has knocked him over, took advantage of his muteness to insert a thermometer into Sombra's mouth, one that by the temperature, he could tell had been preheated.

"Sombra! There you are! How could you leave the library when you're sick!?" Rainbow Dash shouted out for all to hear. Sombra tried to answer, but was still unable to say anything.

"Sombra is sick?" Fluttershy asked as she flew over to the duo.

"Yes! Just take a look at this!" Rainbow said as she showed her friend the thermometer. "His fever hasn't gone down one bit!"

"Oh goodness, how could you push yourself like that?"

"I...*cough*, I'm not." Sombra said as he pushed the cyan pegasus off of him, finally able to speak. But as he tried to get to his hooves, he lost balance due to his physical weakness. This was definitely taking place at the most inopportune moment for him.

"Just look at the poor guy, he can't even stand up straight." Rainbow said, holding back a laugh. Sombra threw her a glare, but knew that he was unable to do anything at all, he had fallen for her trap.

"A thousand curses upon thee." He uttered under his breath, Sombra's olden nature taking over him for a second. This could not end well.


Sitting down with her eyes closed, Twilight sighed in boredom. This meditation was truly testing her patience, and at this point, there was very little for it to test. Thinking that perhaps a break was in order, she stood up and began to walk out of the dark room, but as she reached the door, she heard Spike speak from the other side.

"Oh Jeez! I almost forgot about Rarity's birthday!" He shouted as he ran across the hall.

Twilight stood still as the gears in her head began to turn. Quietly, the mare began to follow Spike to where he was. Peeking over the edge of the the door, Twilight looked over at her dear friend.

"Sombra did say it was painless....and that I had already done it once..." She said as purple flames began to spark out of her eyes. "Any kind of fear works...right?" She asked herself as she began to focus her attention on Spike. As if her very being was being lifted from stress and weariness, Twilight felt dark magic begin to drain into her like a breath of fresh air. She quickly stepped back and leaned on a close by wall. Looking down at her hooves, Twilight smiled to her self.

"I could get used to this."

32. A Smile That Never Fades

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"You should have seen the look on his face!" Rainbow Dash said, barely able to contain her laughter.

"You did what?!" Pinkie shouted out, panicked by what she knew Fluttershy would do once she thought Sombra was sick. "I need to get to the library!" She said as she began to run off. Rainbow, who had now stopped her snickering, could only stare at her friend oddly s she galloped away.

"What's her problem?"

Pinkie ran as fast as her hooves could take her, though the answer as to why wasn't all that clear. Between her and Fluttershy, only she knew that they were 'rivals', that being said, if one pony isn't even aware of the rivalry, is it really a rivalry? What's worse, is that the more she thought about it, the more Pinkie began to realize that Sombra had been bumping into Fluttershy on almost a regular basis. Could he share some feelings for her? Shaking her head to break out of her thoughts, Pinkie came to stop as she arrived at the library's front door. Taking a deep breath, she opened it.

"I am fine!" Pinkie heard Sombra say from else where in the library. Following the sounds he was making, Pinkie soon arrived at his bedroom where she hesitated to enter. She gulped as she rounded up some courage to turn the knob.

"You need to rest!" Fluttershy said as she struggled to keep Sombra in bed.

"How many times must I tell you? I am an embodiment of darkness, I cannot get sick." Sombra said as he tried to pull the yellow mare off of him, but with his current weak body, wasn't able to do. Finally, after another moment of conflict, the pegasus let go and took a step back to glance over at the annoyed stallion.

"Well I must admit, your fever did go down."

"There wasn't any fever to begin with."

"But Rainbow's-"

"That mare is just a devious little....oh, hello there Pinkamena." Sombra said, turning to see the observing mare. Fluttershy quickly turned around as well.

"Oh, Pinkie! Can you help me convince Sombra to stay in bed? He isn't feeling well."

"I said I'm not sick."

"You keep saying that, but never once have you said you feel alright." Fluttershy pointed out, again turning to argue with him. Sombra bit his tongue as he thought of a way to counter her statement. He had in fact never said he was feeling well because he doesn't, but it wasn't for any sort of illness. He didn't want to let any pony know of the weakness he's been feeling, after all, it isn't like him to drag himself and the last thing he wanted was for pity.

Pinkie looked over at the troubled stallion, not sure of how to take his current attitude. A moment of silence feel, but it wan't one that lasted very long before some pony else spoke.

"Sombra?" Twilight asked, poking her head from the door frame.

"Sparkle, are you done with your meditation?" Sombra asked from his bed. He wished to stand to speak to her, but knew it would be a futile effort with Fluttershy around.

"Yes....Why are you in bed?"

"Sombra isn't feeling well." Pinkie said.

"I'm not sick."

"Does that mean that we can't continue our lessons?" The alicorn asked, though remained almost expressionless as she spoke.

"Of course we-"

"Absolutely not, Sombra needs to rest." Fluttershy interrupted.

Sombra placed a hoof at his forehead, messaging his brows to calm his nerves. "Sparkle, don't listen to them, I can still teach you something."

"No no." Twilight began. "If you're not feeling well then we can put a small pause on in your lessons, your health comes first after all." She said with a smile. Sombra raised an eyebrow at her statement. That was certainly unexpected, since they had started their lessons she had wanted nothing other than to continue as quickly as possible, what was up with the sudden change of heart?

"In any case, I don't need to rest."

"Sombrie..." Pinkie said. "I know that this all started with Dashie's prank, but if you really aren't feeling well, you need to rest up."

"Prank?!" The pegasus asked out.

"I have better things to do than just lay around all day."



Twilight giggled as Sombra was left without a response. "Come on Sombra. Ever since you've been reformed, you've done nothing but help us all out in some way or another, maybe it's time you let us help you out."

Sombra remained quiet. Again he wanted to protest his 'reformed' status, but ever since the Test of Courage, had given quite some thought as to his actual status in Equestria. With a sigh, he pulled the covers over himself and turned away from the mares. "Fine, but I don't need some pony to take care of me."

Fluttershy and Pinkie smiled as soon an opportunity arose for them. "Don't worry!" Both of them said in unison. "I'll take good care of you."

Sombra already began to dread his situation.


"Here's your soup." Fluttershy said as she handed the dark stallion his meal. "I made it myself, it should help you recover some strength." She said as she sat on a stool next to his bed, waiting for him to begin eating.

"Didn't I say I didn't need any pony taking care of me?" Sombra said as he took the bowl given to him.

"I'm not taking care of you, just aiding in your recovery with some nourishment."

"I fail to see the difference."

"The difference is that I'm not here twenty-four-seven making sure you're alright."

"You would go to such lengths for me?" He asked as he began to eat. Despite his protests, the soup did seem to revitalize him slightly. Whether it was because it was actually nutritious or simply because it was made with tender care, it was helping him in some way.

"It wouldn't be the first time. One time Rainbow Dash got super sick because she was out in the rain too long practicing her stunts. I had to take care of her for a whole week before she got better."

"Couldn't one of the other of the elements have taken shifts along with you?" Sombra asked in between his spoon fulls.

"They wanted to, but couldn't. Rainbow Dash lives on a cloud home, and only pegasi can walk on clouds without the use of a special spell."

"I see. That mare, the elements of Loyalty I believe."


"What does she have against me?"

"Oh, she is just trying to keep us safe. She still thinks you're the tyrant we fought during the Crystal Empire event."

"I suppose I can't blame her for trying to keep her loved ones safe..." He said as he began to think what was left of the soup out of the bowl. "But I don't see how pranks are a viable option for doing so."

"Oh, She was trying to test you." Pinkie said, entering the room, a saddle full of stuff on her back.

Though annoyed that his room was beginning to get crowded, Sombra dismissed his complaints and continued the conversation. "How so?"

"She said that if we pranked you, and you had been faking being reformed, you would react angrily and show your true intentions." She said, letting down her bag of stuff.

"Uh huh...And what, pray tell, is all of that?"

"Stuff for you so you can still have fun!" Pinkie said as she began to take out various things from her saddle. Toys of some kind, none he had ever seen before, but what really drew his attention was a small canvas along with a paint brush. As Pinkie threw things left and right, Fluttershy stood from her seat.

"Are you leaving?" Sombra asked.

"Yes, I have some errands to run, and Pinkie said she'd take shifts with me." The pegasus said with a small smile. She waved her hoof bye from the door and proceeded to exit the library. Pinkie, who had lost some of her momentum from earlier after hearing Sombra's question to her friend, glanced at him who was putting the empty bowl he used on the night stand next to his bed.

Clearing her throat, Pinkie began some small talk. "So, how has your day been?"


"It can't be that bad, you had Fluttershy taking care of you." Pinkie said with a nervous laugh.

"Yes, but I am still confined to this bed." He said, gesturing at his sitting position on the under the sheets. "This is more stressful than having mountains of work."

"Not used to staying still?" Pinkie said, jumping on the bed, sitting down near the edge to speak with him.

"Not at all. Most nights as King, I spend doing paper work. The day was no different, but I had other tasks to attend to as well. My body just got used to always doing something."

"But always doing work is no fun."

"I admit, doing work is not very appealing, but I got a lot of satisfaction by finishing said work. After all, if I did a good job, my empire would be that much better off."

"You bring up how you were king a lot, do you miss it?"

"The loads of work, little rest, and something always being wrong? No, not at all." Sombra said without even thinking about his answer, causing Pinkie to start laughing softly. "But knowing that I helped some pony have a better life, yes. I miss being the pony others came to when they had problems. It gave me...a purpose, per say."

"So what kind of cutie mark would being helpful be anyway?"

"Cutie mark? My cutie mark has nothing to do with being helpful." Sombra said as he stood from the bed. His coat still bare from lack of any outfits to wear, his cutie mark was in plain sight. "You've seen it before have you not?"

"Never payed close attention to it." Pinkie said as she came near the stallion for a closer look. It was a red crystal shard that stemmed into three at the top.

"I got this when I defeated Dycus, the Changeling King."

"What!? You got your cutie mark when you were a grown stallion?!" Pinkie shouted out in surprise.

" my time, that was not something particularly strange, especially for ponies of my upbringing."

"What do you mean?"

"My family...they, uh. Nevermind." Sombra said, turning away from the mare. Both remained quiet for a while, something Sombra did not find much comfort in. Slowly, he looked around his room and once again found the canvas Pinkie had brought with her. Using his magic, he levitated it over to him. "Have any paint?"

A smile stretched ear to ear as she jumped off his bed to her saddle, quickly scrambling through her things to take out many different kinds of paints, holding them out intently.

"How do you keep all those things in your saddle bag?" He asked as he glanced at all the objects that Pinkie had already taken out and only imagined what else she still had in there.

"Mare's secret." She responded with a wink.

A chuckle escaped him as he found a comfortable position on his bed. Picking up the brush and paints, he began to visualize the image he was to create as his tools were being prepared. "Say, do you want to be my model?"

"Huh?" Pinkie said as a small blush appeared on her cheeks.

"For this painting I mean."

"Uh, sure. W-What do I have to do?"

"All you have to do is stand still and smile." Sombra said as his the side of his lips curved up in a half smile. Pinkie's blush only intensified as she looked at the stallion gaze upon her, a gentle care in his crimson eyes.

"I-I think I can do that." Pinkie said as she walked to the opposite side of the room, her head tilted downward as she avoided eye contact with Sombra.

Again a soft laugh come from him as he began to softly run his brush against the canvas. "Why are you getting shy all of a sudden? it's just like taking a picture."

"Except that this picture takes forever to take...and some pony is watching me very closely."

"And now you're afraid to have some pony watch you?"

" isn't just any pony watching me." Pinkie said as she brushed her front legs against each other in a timid manner.

"So it's because the big scary tyrant is looking at you then?" Sombra teased.

"I've never thought of you as a tyrant!" Pinkie shouted out, getting a little worked up at his statement, her reaction amusing him.

"Please stay still." Sombra said as he waved his brush at Pinkie, who imminently went back to how she was previously. He continued to drag his brush against the white of his painting space. The only sounds heard where the brush strokes and the soft breathing of the ponies, a serene atmosphere to be sure. To Pinkie, however, it was simply taking too long.


"Hmm?" Sombra asked, occasionally looking back at her from the canvas.

"What do you think about Fluttershy?"

"She lives up to her element." He answered blankly.

"Yeah...She's really nice to every pony."

"And you're the element of laughter, you live up to it as well. I've read many articles about your parties."

"Yeah, I make the best parties in Ponyville!" She proclaimed with pride.

"And how come I haven't gone to them? As I recall, it was part of my contract to attend any party you are in charge of getting together."

"You didn't seem too excited about it when I first told you, so I did not think you'd have fun."

"Perhaps not then."

"Now you would?"

"More than I would have back then."

Sombra continued to paint, but soon came to a stop as he took one last glance at Pinkie, how had remained surprisingly still. They locked eyes for a while before the mare finally looked away.

"What is it?" She asked, her blush from before not faded in the slightest.

"You're not smiling."

"Huh? Oh, like this?" Pinkie asked, forcing out a smile for him, one that was much too exaggerated to seem genuine.

"No no, a real smile."

"This is a real smile!" Pinkie, protesting how Sombra was seeing right through her facade. The stallion simply waited a moment as Pinkie continued to just smile the best she could. Finally, Sombra put down his equipment and walked over to the now nervous mare. He placed his hooves on the sides of her face.

He remained motionless for a while as Pinkie's heart skipped beats at his touch. Then, out of nowhere, Sombra squished her cheeks together, making her lips pop out, after a second of that, he stretched them out and continued to mess with her face. Though at first shocked at his actions, Pinkie then bursted into laughter as she gently pushed his hooves away.

"Stop that!" She said as she giggled. "That feels funny!" PInkie said as she continued to laugh, and even snorted from just how random Sombra's actions were.

"There we go, that's more of a real smile." Sombra said, his statement drawing in the pink mare's attention again. "You look much cuter with a smile on your face Pinkamena." He said feeling accomplished.

Pinkie's face instantly flushed red as she heard his voice. "W-W-W-What?" She stuttered, unable to get a clear word out after his statement.

Again Sombra's only response was to chuckle. "I've said it before haven't I? Back when I had a drinking game with Applejack."

"B-But you were drunk! It doesn't count!" Pinkie sad, her eyes in a daze, and not entirely sure what she was trying to say or defend with that statement.

"I'll have you know I have a very high tolerance for alcohol. I remember that night clear as day."

Pinkie looked down as her face felt as if it was on fire. Sombra slowly made his way back to his bed to pick up the canvas. Getting ready, he waited for Pinkie to get back into her previous position. She took a moment to try to regain her composure, hesitantly looking back up at Sombra who patiently waited for her to get ready.

Noticing his eyes intently on her, Pinkie's face did not lose any of it's red flush. With their eyes locked, Pinkie began to laugh nervously, but what started as just a small giggle, soon became a full out honest laughter that she could not contain. She began to laugh so hard that she began to tear up for a moment. Sombra smiled as he began to paint again, gently moving his brush against the canvas, slowly finishing his portrait of Pinkie.

His gaze soften as his painting finally took the form of Pinkie, a Pinkie who had a very beautiful smile upon her face, her eyes closed gently against themselves from her giggling, small tears of joy at the corners of her eyes. Finally he put his brush down as he looked with content at his work.

"You truly are the element of laughter." He said softly, his smile never leaving his face as he glanced up to the mare now on the floor laughing to herself.


Panting was heard as sizzling sounds echoed in the background. Twilight, who had retreated into the dark of the Everfree forest, stood in the middle of a clearing, one that she herself caused. The trees around her had been blasted and turn apart, the bark stained with purple and green aura.

"Goodness, it was only a small amount of magic I drained, but it gave me enough for five magical blasts! This dark magic is more potent that I thought." Twilight said to herself, a joyful grin upon her face. "I can't wait until Sombra teaches me more stuff!"

Satisfied with her small test, Twilight turned around and began to make her way back, but as she left the clearing, she came to a stop. Slowly she turned around to see the disaster she created. As she looked around, her pupils began to thin.

"Then again....Sombra might not be able to teach me anything for a while. He isn't feeling very well after all. Maybe I should experiment a little on my own...What harm is there in just a few more tests?" Twilight asked as her smile went form a joyful grin, to an almost eerie smirk. Her purple irises blurring into red for a second. "Yes, just a few tests, no pony will know."

33. Finally the Decision is Made

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"Ya sure finished your chores in a hurry today Big Mac." Applejack said as she walked next to her brother, both of them carrying a saddle filled with apples, no doubt freshly picked. "Was it so ya could come see Sombra?"

"Eeyup." The red stallion said, the weight of his luggage not showing one bit of strain on his large body.

"You two sure became good friends fast." The farm mare teased as she nudged her brother. "Something ya ain't telling me?"

"Eenope." He said, not amused by the direction his sister was taking the conversation.

"All Ah'm saying is that I've never seen you become such good friends with any pony before." She continued to tease.

"Ah have baby pictures of ya hidden away...the embarrassing kind."

"Ya wouldn't dare."

"Ah would." Big Mac said with a smirk on his face. As the two sent darts at each other with their eyes, they soon came close to a mare who was murmuring to herself.

"So many tests, the amount of dark magic required isn't even that much. As long as I don't over due it, I should be alright." Twilight said to herself in a hushed tone, and oblivious to her friends coming close to her, had red eyes and a devilish smirk. "Yeah, just a little something while Sombra gets better, no harm in that."

Noticing the purple mare, Applejack shouted over to her friend who was facing away from her. "Heya Twi!"

The sudden sound of her friend's voice shocked Twilight, raising her head upright and her eyes returning to their normal purple color. As if waking from a daze, she shook her head and looked at the farm ponies walking up to her. "Oh, hello Applejack. How are you this morning?"

"Just fine. Me and Big Mac are gonna go visit Sombra, see how he's doin'."

"I'm sure he'll appreciate it! I think Pinkie and Fluttershy are driving him crazy."

"How long has he been sick?"

"It's been three days. He keeps saying he isn't sick, but he is sorta weak."

"Think it might be that he's just getting old?" Applejack joked. "Ah mean, he may not look it, but he is over a thousand years old."

Every pony shared laughed as the walked. The two farm ponies invited Twilight back to her home with them to check on Sombra, and soon enough they were finding themselves back at the library's front door. As they entered, they heard rather loud rustling from somewhere inside. The three ponies all glanced at each other before making their way to Sombra's room, and as expected, the closer they got, the louder the sound.

"It's my turn!" They heard Pinkie say from behind the door they all paused on.

"But I'm not done with him yet!" Fluttershy replied. Again, more rustling was heard, but now they also heard the sound of a bed creaking. At once, Applejack and Twilight blushed as their minds rushed to dark places.

"Sombrie wants to play with me next!"

"Sombra needs to stay here in bed!"

Big Mac held a very large grin on his face as he soon realized what the mares were thinking about, chuckling briefly. Twilight, who was a little angered by what Sombra was 'doing', rushed in and shouted out.

"What do you think you're doing with Pinkie and Fluttershy!?" But as the door swung open, they saw a rather different scene than what was in their head. To each side of Sombra's bed stood a mare, pulling at his arms. They would pull him from side to side, Sombra having his eyes half open in silent annoyance. Each time he was pulled to either side of his bed, it would creak.

"Evidently, not being of physical importance." Sombra said, as he continued to swing from side to side. "These mares don't seem to understand that they are tearing my limbs apart." He said in a rather calm voice despite his situation. Pinkie and Fluttershy instantly let go of the stallion, finally allowing them some rest.

"Yer mighty popular it seems." Applejack said with a laugh, stepping in along with her brother.

"Eeyup." Big Mac said with a smirk, one that Sombra took quick notice of. Their eyes locking, he quickly understood his meaning.

"Not by choice." Sombra responded, but it did not seem to convince the red stallion.

"Ah take it these fillies haven't been letting you get much rest?" Applejack asked as she set her saddle down and offering an apple to Sombra, though he quickly raised his hoof to decline the snack. A quick glance at his nightstand soon revealed why. It was full of dirty dishes, mostly bowls no doubt from Fluttershy's homemade soup.

"Not in the slightest."

"I was trying to get you to stay in bed!" Fluttershy said, trying to prove herself innocent.

"To eat and drink more of your home remedies? I believe I have eaten enough to feed three families."

"Well...technically you've eaten enough to help heal five elephants and two leopards..." She responded while looking away, poking her hooves together in a cute fidget.

"That only proves my point."

"Which is why I wanted Sombrie to move around!" Pinkie jumped into the conversation. "He needs to pass down his food."

"But that wouldn't help his condition!"

"Ya think that maybe he just needs some sleep? Ah always feel better after a nap."


"Maybe my books have something that can help."

Sombra quietly sat on his bed, not the liking the noise in his once quiet bed quarters, but to make matters worse, they were speaking as if he did not have much choice in the matter. Truth be told, he probably didn't, he has learned that a mare with a plan is....difficult to oppose. As if things couldn't get any better, every pony heard a loud crash at the other side of the room. Sombra's window had been broken by a rainbow colored flash with something white at the end of the streak.

"There you are!" Rainbow Dash shouted as she darted straight to the stallion bound to his bed.

"I haven't left my bedroom since your prank, if you have problems finding me, then I have some bad news for you." Sombra responded, insulting her sense of direction, something all pegasi should be very skilled at.

"Don't try to change the subject!"

"No subject has even been established."

"You're really ticking me off!" Rainbow shouted to the calm stallion. Sombra smiled at the frustrated mare, a small comfort in his meek condition.

"Darling..." Rarity said, getting help from her friends to stand from where Rainbow had crashed in. She had latched on to her friend's tail in an effort to stop her, but instead she was simply dragged along for the ride. "You really must calm down."

"Calm down?! He has our tickets for the Gala! And it's in two days!" Rainbow shouted as she pointed her hoof at him.

"He doesn't have our tickets, he simply has an extra one." Twilight stepped in. "Princess Celestia said we can't have our until he gives one away to a friend so that some pony doesn't end up with two by accident."

"So he just has to choose?"


Every pony remained rather quiet as they all turned to look at Sombra. He did not really like being the new center of attention and even less knowing that two particular mares were staring rather intently at him.

"So whatcha waiting for?" Rainbow asked. "Or are you simply not gonna choose so we can't go to the Gala?"

"That isn't my intention." Sombra said as he looked away, though mostly to turn away from the stares Pinkie and Fluttershy were giving him.

"So what's taking so long? Just pick Twilight or something."

"What?!" Twilight asked out as she blushed slightly. "No no no." She said quickly glancing at her friends. "He can't choose me."

But just as Twilight said those words, Sombra quickly found an escape plan for his awkward situation. "Oh?" He added with a smile. "So tell me Sparkle, who should I choose?"

The alicorn froze in place, now she was the center of attention, and she did not like it very much either. "W-What?"

"You choose for me Sparkle, after all, we did have an agreement." He said with a smirk. Twilight suddenly remembered that she had agreed to play 'damage control' for him, and was regretting it.

"Uh..." She said, glancing around the room. "You should pick...." She said as she continued to eye every pony in the room, quickly trying to avoid Pinkie and Fluttershy's puppy eye stare. "Big Mac."

"What?" The red stallion asked out, his eyes, for the first time in a very long time, open wide.

"WHAT?!" Every other mare shouted, just as shocked.


"Nope nope nope nope nope." Big Mac said repeatedly to Sombra as he followed him around Sweet Apple Acres. It was the next day, meaning that the Gala was tomorrow night, and also meaning that Sombra did not have much time to convince him to agree.

"Macingtosh, please. You know of my predicament." Sombra tried to reason with him.

"Nope!" Mac shouted as he gave a hearty kick at a tree, knocking down plenty of apples, more than one of his usual bucks. "Ah ain't gonna be yer date just cause ya don't want to make a hard choice."

"You aren't going to be my date, just my 'plus one'." Sombra said, again trying to find a way to convince his friend to agree.

"That ain't much different!"

"It is! Come now Macingtosh, when was the last time you got off your farm to enjoy yourself?"

"That's besides the point." Big Mac said as he continued with his chores. Sombra also assisted him, thinking that perhaps being helpful would add in his friend's change of heart. Unfortunately, he wasn't in a very good physical state. He struggled to help with much of anything, almost collapsing under the strain he was placing on himself several times.

"Ya don't have to help. Ya ain't gonna change my mind by doing so."

"I have to try." Sombra said as he placed apples in their basket. "One, I hate not doing anything, and two, I really need you to do me this favor. I really don't want to hurt either of those mares."

Big Mac looked over at his tired friend. He was certainly genuine in his actions, and watching him struggle almost made him feel sorry for him. He sighed before placing a hoof to his forehead. "Alright...fine."

Sombra's ears perked up at the sound."Truly? You'll help me and accept the ticket?"

"Eeyup, but ya owe me one."

"Of course!" Sombra said, relieved both physically and emotionally.

"But..." Big Mac said as he came close. He'll be damned if he didn't at least have fun while he was forced to do this.


"We gotta get ya a nice new outfit. In fact, we should both get new outfits. Ones that match."

"I'm not liking where you're going with this."

"Ah mean, if Ah'm gonna be yer date, we need to have outfits that compliment each other." Big Mac said with a smirk on his face. Instantly Sombra knew he was messing with him, and he didn't like it.

"You aren't my date."

"No need to get shy now Sugarcube." He continued to tease. "Ya already did the hard part of askin'."

"Technically, it was Sparkle." Sombra said as he began to walk away, not wanting to be part of his game. Big Mac began to follow him of course. He wasn't about to let this go.

"Let's go to Rarity's, she'll know how to fix us up all nice and fancy."

"Macingtosh, please stop talking." Sombra said in an annoyed tone.

"So am Ah yer trophy wife now?"

"What does that even mean!?"


Pinkie took long breaths as she prepared herself for what she was about to do. She was on her way to Fluttershy's cottage. She wanted to confront her, finally out everything on the table. Ever since she had realized that perhaps Fluttershy wasn't even aware of the rivalry, she had had a sour taste in her mouth and it was about time to get everything clear.

She soon found herself staring at her friend's front door, now hesitating more than she thought about actually knocking. Pinkie lifted her hoof slowly, but remained motionless as her heart began to beat faster and faster. Slowly putting her hoof back down, she was about to take a step back when the door open on it's own. Fluttershy, who was just as surprised as she was, stared at her before smiling.

"Oh hello Pinkie." She greeted.

"H-Hi Fluttershy."

"Is something wrong?" The pegasus asked, concerned to see her friend out of her usual happy personality.

"Yeah actually. Do you have a minute? I need to talk to you."

"I was about to go to Rarity to get a new dress for the Gala, but sure, come in." Fluttershy said, stepping to the side to allow her friend in. Taking another deep breath, Pinkie walked in. It was now or never. Pinkie and Fluttershy were about to have a good long talk about their relationship with Sombra.

34. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 1)

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"What do you think?" Rarity asked as she stepped away from Sombra. The tall stallion stood head straight in a regal pose, his new outfit welcomed in his eyes. It was reminiscent of his old one, with a thick collar and a small white scarf with a red gem, but instead of the main color being black, it was brown. The red high lights were still present and the vest took on a red color this time. What was most noticeable, however, was the long coat that covered most of his body and a small shoulder cape that hung loosely around him.

"It is splendid. Comfortable and very well made." Sombra complimented her on his new attire. "How did you manage to make this in such a short notice?"

"It wasn't that short of a notice." Rarity said as she sat down on one of her nearby cushions. "I have been working on this since your old one ripped. I made it of more durable material, so it should withstand some exposure to dangerous situations. SOME!" She made clear, raising her voice in irritation.

"I take it you are still bitter about the old outfit?" He asked with a smirk.

"I just cannot believe you destroyed it."

"Now it wasn't exactly my fault, now was it?"

"Hmm, perhaps not. But you should still take better care of yourse- ahem, your things." Rarity corrected herself. Truth be told, while at first she was mortified by the condition the outfit she had so generously given him had been thrashed, when she examined it closely, she saw things she did not like.

Rarity glanced over to a nearby closet where she had hung what was let of said outfit, her eyes growing sad at the remembrance, after all, in her outrage to repair it, she noticed how many lethal wounds had been placed on Sombra. Various gashes around the vest, especially a large impale at the left chest pocket. Around the main coat were many burns and and shreds, no doubt from taking on Twilight's full energy blast to protect the Timber Wolf in hopes of saving Applejack. The more she thought, the more depressed she felt towards the stallion whom had gone through so much pain.

"Are you alright?" Sombra asked as he passed behind the white mare. She looked up in surprise, quickly shaking her head to regain her usual composure.

"Yes darling, I'm perfectly fine." She said with a half smile, then leading them over to the room next to them. Gently knocking on the door with her hoof she called out. "Big Mac? How are you doing in there?"


"Having trouble Macingtosh?"


Sombra chuckled as he opened the door and saw the red stallion having difficulties still trying to even put on the coat, his tie in a mess and clothes flung ever which way.

"Looks like your little charade came to a quick end when it came to actually getting an outfit huh?" Sombra said with a laugh, walking in and using his red magic to help his friend out of the mess he made.

Annoyed, Big Mac grunted and exhaled a deep breath through his nose. "...Eeyup."

Slowly, Big Mac's own outfit started to come into place as Sombra carefully helped him put it on. After a few minutes of rather laughable fidgeting on the farm pony's behalf, he was finally in his own suit, much like Sombra's had a thick collar and a white scarf, but unlike his, was tucked into his vest. Mac's black coat had blue highlights and was very tight on him compared to the rather lose hangings of Sombra's.

"Now don't you both look so handsome?" Rarity said as she placed her hooves on her face in admiration.

"Thank you, that's awfully kind to say to a farmer and a tyrant." Sombra joked.

"Eeyup." Mac echoed in thoughts.

Rarity giggled at their sarcastic comments before making her way towards the door. "Now, I don't mean to be rude, but you two need to get going." She said as she opened the door for them, gesturing them to exit.

"Sure, but may I ask why?"

"The girls are going to come over so we can get dressed for the Gala. This year is sure to be so much more enjoyable."

"You say it as if the previous one wasn't"

"Because it wasn't! Especially that horrendous prince, what a royal pain he was." Rarity said as she escorted the stallions all the way out to her front door. Once outside, Sombra turned to her and asked with a very puzzled look.

"Prince? I thought Celestia and Luna were the only royals in Equestria left."

"Well, Prince Blue Blood is Celestia's adoptive nephew, sort of like Princess Cadence." She said, but as the name entered Sombra's ears, his eyes narrowed in what seemed to be concealed fury.

"Blue Blood?" He asked, trying to make sure he heard her right.

"Yes, he was quite rude to me when we met at the Gala last year."

Sombra lowered his head, a shadow covering his eyes as he clenched his teeth. Big Mac, who was standing beside him glanced over and noticed his unusual behavior, but before he could say anything, Sombra turned on his heels and began to walk away.

"There is something I have to do." He said, quickly making his away about the town. The red and white ponies stood still as they watched with rather worried eyes.

"You think he is alright?"


Sombra walked as slow as he could despite his first reaction being to run. That name, Blood, it is a surname to a family of unicorns he loathes, and now that he knew 'Prince' Blue Blood would be attending, he began to realize just why Celestia had made the Grand Galloping Gala the party he should attend. As he noticed himself trotting in an angry manner, he realized he didn't really have a destination.

Sombra soon came to a stop, gazing up at Canterlot which was easily visible in the distance. Attached to the side of a mountain, it was in quite an open location, his military past telling him how many which ways it could be attacked, and his royal past also stating how inconvenient it would be for ponies visiting, making economical trade difficult. His mind was simply running rampant in different irritated thoughts all cluttering together to further frustrate him.

"You okay there?" Spike asked as he walked up to the tall stallion. Sombra looked down at him and took a deep breath to try to calm himself.

"Yes, I'm just a little agitated."


"Say, you can send letters to Princess Celestia can't you?"

"The one and only dragon that can do that!" Spike proclaimed, popping out his chest in pride.

"Would you happen to have a parchment and quill with you?"

"Always. You'd be surprised how many times Twilight has me writing something or another." He said while talking out his tools from behind him.

"Could you please tell the Princess that I need to speak with her?"

"Uh, okay, but why not just wait until the Gala? She'll be there too."

"This is urgent."


Rarity was busy trying to clean her boutique, the sudden appearance of the stallions, while not unexpected, was still a hassle to get together. Right now, she was happy she had predicted what was going to happen and came up with a good suit for both of them. Gazing at her now clean environment, she smiled at her beautiful boutique, but she couldn't indulge in it for very long. A knock was heard at her door.

"Hello?" She asked out as she opened the it.

"Hello!" Pinkie shouted as she jumped in, not exactly being invited in, but the white mare playfully rolled her eyes and stepped to the side. Behind the pink mare followed Fluttershy.

"Hi." She said softly.

"You two are early." Rarity said as she closed her boutique.

"Yeah, we actually have a favor to ask!" Pinkie shouted as she hopped in.

"If you don't mind of course." Fluttershy quickly said as she followed behind her pink friend.

"Not at all, what is it?"

"Can you make us something that goes well with Sombrie?"
"Can you make us something that goes well with Sombra?" They both asked in unison. The question threw Rarity for a loop, especially with both of them asking at the same time.


"Me and Fluttershy had a conversation."

"Y-Yes, we had a long talk about...Sombra." Fluttershy said, looking away in embarrassment.

"I-Is that so?"

"Yup! We put everything out in the table!" Pinkie shouted excitedly. "We both like Sombra, and neither of us want to give him up!"

"Well, I told you that is it's really really important to you..." The timid mare said softly. "That I could just stop-"

"No! That wouldn't be fair to you! Besides, we already agreed."

"Agreed on what?" Rarity asked, the only mare in the room, 'out of the loop'.

"We will court Sombra tonight at the Gala. We let Sombra pick on his own, and the loser can't get upset." Fluttershy said, but was quickly interrupted with Pinkie jumping in front of her.

"But that means everything is fair game! Like dances!"

"Or having a picnic under Luna's moon."

"Or sharing treats!"

"Or even...sharing a kiss."

Both mares fantasized about what they each said, causing the white mare in front of her to giggle. "Well this is certainly unexpected."

"So will you help us?"

"Please please please?"

"Of course I will!"


Sombra sat as he rode the chariot Celestia had sent for him. The white pegasi pulling it seemed to have little difficulties carrying him. He sat and panted, though not because he was tired, but rather just out of energy. It has been far too long since he had even a drop of dark magic, and even longer since he had his eyes spark in flames from absorbing fear.

"Are you alright sir?" One of the guards asked, looking back at the stallion they were escorting.

"I'm fine. Please just get me to Princess Celestia as soon as you can." Sombra responded, shaking his head to break out of his daze.

"We're already half way to the City Square. You will then be escorted via carriage to the castle."

"We're flying right now, why can't you just take me directly to the castle? Better yet, take me to a balcony of the castle."

"What? No, we can't do that, it is against the procedure we were given."

Sombra simply raised and eyebrow at the pegasus. They remained looked in a stare for a while before the other guard nudged him.

"Didn't you hear? That's the ex tyrant of the Crystal Empire." He whispered to his friend.


"Yeah, think we better do as he asks..."

Again, they bother glanced back at Sombra to confirm their suspicions. Nodding to each other, they spoke.

"Yes sir, whatever you want sir!"

Sombra held back a chuckle as he saw the 'guards' react. It had been a while since anypony had taken his past seriously, and he wasn't sure if that was a bad thing or not. It certainly was nice to have ponies like Pinkie completely disregard his tyrant past, but at the same time, he missed some of the respect and esteem that such a past gave him. After all, he can no longer introduce himself as 'King Sombra', but rather as just 'Sombra'. It felt like something was missing.

As the chariot took a quick turn to reroute, Sombra was able to get a clear view of the city of Canterlot beneath them. Though he had been here before...on various occasions, it was much different than he remembered. Much more peaceful, that's for sure. Ponies went about their business with a carefree nature, but unlike Ponyville, every pony here was much more carefree in regard with what it was they cared for, often not paying mind to those ranks beneath them. Things hadn't changed all that much.

Sombra noticed the castle starting to come into full view, and quickly began to scope out a balcony to land on, but quickly noticed a familiar mare through one of the windows.

"Guards, I bid you farewell." Sombra said as he placed a hoof to the side of chariot. Before the pegasi had an opportunity to react, Sombra jumped from the flying vehicle, quickly falling down towards the castle. The wind rushed against him, his mane and coat flapping behind him.

"I hope I still have enough energy..." He said to himself, though it was already too late to back out. Grunting, Sombra forced out what little magic he still had left, his eyes sparking in a small purple flame. At once, Sombra covered his hooves with his dark crystal while erecting a crystal pillar from the castle's wall. It coiled around from meters beneath him and by the time it was high enough for him 'land' on it, it had spun to make a rather long slide.

The crystals on his hooves and the pillar came into an abrupt contact, but because they were smooth, enacted as merely boots that managed to slide on the spiral pillar with little friction. Sombra slid on the pillar he had conjured up, the spins slowly getting him to a stop while he maintained his balance on the crystal. Finally, after coming all the way down to the balcony he had spotted, Sombra jumped of his crystal and landed at almost no impact at all on the stone balcony, breaking the crystal boots he had made on contact.

Glancing up at the now degrading crystal, Sombra smirked. "Still got it."

Even more exhausted than before, Sombra slowly made his way into the castle from the balcony. He opened a glass door that led inside, and as he stepped in, heard a voice speak to him.

"Art thou about to whisk me into Our dark night?" Luna asked in a teasing manner. She was currently balancing on her back legs while holding a dress against herself in front of a mirror. Sombra chuckled in response.

"It's not night yet though."

"The night shalt come forth faster than thou believes." Luna said, finally turning to face the 'intruder.' "But We must say, it is always a joyful event to greet a friend."

"I'm surprised you took my intrusion in such stride."

"If thou even laid a single hoof on Us, a new casket would be thy sole reward." She said with a soft smile. "Not that We believe such actions would come from thee."

"I am simply visiting. Saw you from your window and thought it best to approach from friendly ground and work my way to my destination." He said as he looked around the dark room of the mare. Much of it was bathed in lavender and royal blue, fitting colors for the Princess of the Night.

"But We reside several floors up, how could thou have possibly had seen me?"

"I jumped from a chariot." Sombra said as he made his way to the door he presumed was his way out.

"Thou never ceases to amaze Us." Luna said with a worried smile. "Might We inquire of thou's destination?"

"I need to speak to your sister." Sombra said as he opened the door.

"Are We not of high enough caliber for thee?" Luna teased, putting on the dress she had been looking at. "Down the hall, up the stairs, three doors to thine left.

"Oh don't you start getting jealous too." Sombra said as he began to recall the two mares back in Ponyville. Luna simple giggled at his remark, finishing some of the details she had left to do for her outfit. Before leaving, Sombra looked over at the dark mare and smiled softly. "That looks beautiful on you. I am sure you will be that talk of many stallions tonight." Sombra said before leaving.

Luna, who was currently looking in the mirror to fix her mane, blushed at his compliment. By the time she had turned to speak, he was already gone. "Sombra, thou hast not realized how much thine honeyed words will sway a mare." She said, her blush still remaining. "It shall, how does one say in modern terms? 'Bite you in your flank'? Yes, it shall bite thee in thy posterior!" Luna said as she laughed to herself.


Taking the Lunar Goddess's directions, Sombra soon found himself in front of a large door, no doubt Celestia's chamber by the decorations, but just as he took a step forward, he noticed a strange smell. One familiar, yet distant. He sniffed the air around him, falling into it's homey feel, he began to follow the scent. As he walked, Sombra began to feel the effects of his sudden exertion of dark magic.

The closer he got to the source of the strangely sweet smell, the weaker he felt. It wasn't that energy was being drained from him, there wasn't any energy to drain to begin with. It was almost like if coming closer reminded him of his former self, his more powerful sense. Sombra could very well feel the difference in his now weak self to when he was a tyrant, but the question was, why? Why the sudden feeling of melancholy over his days of king?

The halls he walked echoed his hoof steps, giving him an eerie feeling that slowly began to constrict him, as if the shadows around him were trying to swallow him whole. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of walking, Sombra came face to face with a door. Nothing particularly special about it visually, but as he reached for the knob his heart began to beat faster and faster.

The door creaked as it slowly came open, Sombra's silhouette remained at the entrance as he inspected the dark room. It was quite large with a large vase of some sort in the center. There were no other decorations except two torches at either side of the container. It struck him odd since every other part of the castle was adorned to the last free spot available.

Sombra took a step inside into the dark chamber, as he did the torches went out, but rather than get shocked, he was rather calm. The darkness was...inviting for him. It was so calm and serene, but whether that was because it was true or simply because he was used to the darkness, it wasn't clear. He walked over to the vase, slowly lifting a hoof to touch it.

"I knew I'd find you here."

Shocked, Sombra jumped to the side as he took a defensive stance towards the newcomer. To his surprise, it was Celestia who had greeted him. Without looking at him, she came close to the vase and began to admire it.

"It's sort of small isn't it?" She said as she circled around it, emphasizing her point. "Hard to believe that it contains such terrible power."

"What's in it?" Sombra asked as he began to stand at ease. "It feels...familiar."

"It should. It's yours after all."

Sombra stood quiet, narrowing his eyes at both the vase and the princess. "You must be mistaken, I've never even seen a vase like this."

"Oh, don't be silly. I'm not talking about the vase, I'm talking about what it has inside."

"And what would that be?"

"Surely you can tell. After all, energy can't just banish into thin air, now can it?" Celestia said as she gestured towards his horn. At once, Sombra realized what had led him here. His old dark magic, the one he had as a tyrant, the one Celestia had stripped of him when he was captured. He clenched his teeth as he looked over to the vase in distant anger.

Oblivious to Sombra's actions, Celestia continued to talk. "By Equestrian standards, I doubt you've had many opportunities to drain dark magic. You must feel empty, do you perhaps want some of this magic back? I wouldn't be opposed to giving you back some of it. In small portions of course."

"No!" He shouted, frightening the mare. She wasn't expecting such a reaction or response.

"What? But you're-"

"Take that thing and keep it under heavy locks! " Sombra said in a growl, turning away and beginning to leave the room. "Do not let any pony near the damned thing. You should have kept it hidden away." He said, leaving the bewildered alicorn behind.

"W-What just happened?" Celestia asked herself before glancing back at the vase. "It's his magic, why doesn't he want it back...I know that he is running on no dark magic as it is. An embodiment of darkness needs dark magic to stay alive."

Sombra had walked quite a distance before he had realized what had actually happened. He sighed as he turned back to look behind him. No doubt he left a bad impression to the princess. That magic, the magic of the tyrant unicorn king, he wanted nothing to do with it. He did not want to be him anymore, more over, he also had some personal reasons. He quickly fell to the side, leaning against the wall.

However, if there was one thing Celestia was right about, it was that he was very low on magic. Dangerously low... Sombra forced himself to stand up right again and began to walk again, swaying from side to side as he struggled to keep one hoof in front of the other. He continued to walk, and soon began to hear ponies talking. What started as simple murmurs, soon became the roaring noise of a large crowd of, by the sound of it, high class ponies. Again he found himself in front of a door, a pattern he was starting to dread.

Again he stood still, pondering if everything that had led up to this point had been worth it all. Twice now he had refused to drain dark magic to regain his vital strength. Be it through the absorption of his old magic, or draining it from the fear of others, Sombra had placed all his chips on this last bet. If he was wrong, he would wither away this very night. An ending he was okay with, after all, he no longer wanted to the tyrant of the stigma placed on him, but rather the benevolent king of his past, and if he had to resort to means of fear and hatred to gain life, he shouldn't deserve to live.

Taking a deep breath, Sombra placed his hooves at both of the knobs of the double doors. It was harder than he had expected to push open the doors, but given his condition, it was understandable. Exerting what little strength he still had, Sombra swung both doors open, revealing a large ball room.

Like a fish thrown back into water, Sombra took a step forward with the vigor he had lacked for many days. His eyes erupting into bright flames, he drew the attention of every pony on the other side of the doors as he felt fear enter his body, but just as he had predicted, not the fear of him.

Right now, standing all in a large cluster, every single pony was afraid, afraid of being shunned and/or feeling out of place. After all, the worst fear of being part of high society, was no longer fitting in. Each one of these ponies was in constant fear of messing up and being a laughing stock for one reason or another. In other words, Sombra was at a dark magic buffet.

The now regal standing stallion, in the sight of dozens of ponies, took confident steps forward as ponies began to part to allow him through. The flames from his eyes flickered as he walked, a soft blow of the wind waving them in place. It was good to be alive.

35. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 2)

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Walking, ponies began to step back to let Sombra pass by. No pony wished to get in his way despite him not acting in any form of aggression. It was a strange feeling to have others 'respect' him enough to give him right of passage. However, Sombra was too busy feeding on their fear of self image to worry too much about what others thought of him.

The sun was low on the horizon as the day was coming to a steady end. The Gala was within the hour and it showed as the other ponies began to crowd around the courtyard, where it began every year before every pony head inside for the party. Following the crowd, Sombra stayed near the back. They soon reached the garden where many small tables were placed along with longer table which had all the small meals for appetizers. Any pony would have considered this the party itself. It was large and all that was missing was a small band of instruments to accompany the outing, no doubt that would take place inside the castle.

As Sombra walked over to the table with food, he had the itching feeling some pony was watching him. He brushed it off since practically every pony around him was glancing at him, not without reason, his eyes were in a constant blaze but he didn't really have any control over that.

"Sombra!" A voice shouted out as it came close. Surprised to have some pony call him out by name, the dark stallion slowly turned to look at the stallion coming his way. "It's so good to see you!"

"Do I know you?" Sombra asked as the running stallion came to a halt in front of him. His wore a bright white coat, though it was only showed on his legs because of his red and blue outfit, military by the looks of it. His eyes matched his mane, blue. The stallion's mane wasn't bland like most others, it held highlights of more lighter shades of blue, almost as if trying to compete with the brightness of the rest of him.

"Oh, well I guess not really. We've only met a few times. My name is Shining Armor."

"Shining Armor?" Sombra asked as he raised a brow. This stallion in front of him...was so completely different than he was. How in Tartarous did Twilight confuse him with her brother when she was a filly?

"The one and only! And you're Sombra."

"Yes, I suppose you know that by the newspaper?"

"Nope! By the files in the Crystal Empire."

Sombra was bewildered, just who was this stallion? He sure did have a familiar air to him, though he just couldn't put his hoof on it.He stared at the joyful stallion for a while longer as he strained to make sense of him. Finally it hit him, quite literally. A distant memory of a white stallion attacking him with energy bolts came to him.

"You! You're the new royal of the Crystal Empire!"

"Yeah! You remember me now." Shining said with a smile, coming close in a 'buddy buddy' manner. This, of course, repulsed Sombra a few feet back.

"You do realize I tried to kill you right?...Twice." Sombra asked the much too jolly 'friend' of his.

"Oh come on, that's all water under the bridge? I'm sure you would have done the same."

Sombra began to sweat at just how carefree Shining was. "I would have killed you on the spot if I was in your shoes."

"Well, good thing you're not in my position, now isn't it?" Shining said, his grin never leaving him.

"Fluttershy was right to laugh when I asked her if I was like you." Sombra said to himself as he got the drink he wanted from the start.


"Nothing. So tell me Shining Armor, where is the other new royal of the Crystal Empire?"

"Oh you mean Cadence? She went off to greet the other mares. You know, they are pretty mad about you leaving them behind."

"I had something to discuss with Celestia." Sombra said as the two of them began to walk towards where Shining had agreed to meet with the others.

"Did you manage to talk to her?"

"Not exactly..."

"Aw, don't worry, they'll be plenty of time to get to talk to her later."

Carrying his drink with his magic, Sombra and Shining made their way around the garden, the two of them looking quite strange next to one another. Like two sides to the same coin. Soon, their destination came into view as a group of mares and a stallion began to walk their way as well. There were only three mares, however, all wearing very elegant dresses and their manes in a very beautiful style, each suited to fit their personality very well. Rarity was the first one to notice him, and after a quick glance, let the others know.

"Sombrie!" Pinkie shouted as she was the first to run up to him.

"Sombrie?" Shining asked the dark stallion next to him before the mare managed to get to them.

"Don't ask." He responded before greeting Pinkie. "Hello there Pinkamena."

"How could you just leave us behind like that?!" She shouted, her cheeks puffed up in cute anger.

"I had business to attend to."

"I told you he must have had a good reason." Fluttershy said as she too stepped up to them, her gentle smile making him feel a little guilty.

"Well aren't you popular?" Shining asked as he nudged him on the side. His eyes told Sombra what he really meant by that statement, only getting an annoyed look as a response.

"Eeyup." Big Mac said, joining them.

"I hope they weren't too much trouble for you Macintosh."

"Not more than usual."

Every pony began to crowd around Sombra, much to his own displeasure. They all greeted each other, but out of the corner of his eyes, Sombra saw Twilight and an unfamiliar alicorn come their way. He could only presume it was the new Crystal Princess. She seemed a little nervous to greet him, though it was understandable, he did try to kill them all at one point.

"Hello Sombra." Twilight said as she pushed her friend towards him.

"Hi Sombra." Cadence said meekly.

Against the background noise of every pony around him talking, Sombra motioned his drink to his mouth as he responded before taking a sip of his drink.

"Hello My Love." As he spoke, the once noisy crowd around him became silent. He didn't notice the sudden change in atmosphere until after he took his drink. Sombra looked around at how he was now the center of attention once more.

"W-W-W-What!?" Cadence screamed out. The rest of the ponies didn't react any less surprised.

"How could you do this to me?" Shining asked his wife with teary eyes, rather comical for him to have such a polar opposite persona than his usual.

"I...It's not- Sombra! Don't lie to every pony!" Cadence shouted out. Sombra wasn't sure what every pony was freaking about about, but he answered as h would have normally, after all, he didn't see anything wrong with his statement.

"I haven't lied about anything, I was just greeting you." He said with a calm voice, not that it was helping his position.

"Have we already lost before we even had a chance?" Fluttershy and Pinkie asked themselves as they too gave sadden looks at Sombra.

As if something had been a joke, a laugh was heard as it came close to them. "Sombra, thou must not be aware of thine situation." Luna said with a giggle.

"I have no idea what's going on." He said before taking a drink.

"Take another look at thy words. One would presume a romantic involvement."

Sombra almost chocked on his drink as he heard Luna speak. "What!? No! I was simply calling her by her name!" He said, trying to fix the situation.

"What? How do you mean?" Rarity asked

Regaining his composure, Sombra did his best to ignore the stares of those around him. "Mi Amore Cadenza, in the Olden, it means My Love, Cadence."

"The Olden?"

"An old forgotten language. I'm not surprised you hadn't heard of it before, it was already a dead language in my time, and that was a thousand years ago." The dark stallion said as he began to give a little history lesson. "Like today, many ponies had name used in their every day language. Take Shining Armor for instance. In The Olden, he would be called Brillante Armadura, or in certain parts of the world, Armatura Splendente."

"That's really cool sounding!" Shining said, completely over the whole ordeal a few minutes prior.

"Yes, many royals tend to have names in the Olden. Luna's name literally means 'Moon', while Celestia's means 'A heavenly entity'."

"And you? I don't know of any word that in Equestrian that sounds even remotely close to 'Sombra', what does your name mean?"

"...Shadow." Sombra said, though a hint of melancholy in his voice as he recalled the name being given to him.

"Thy name suits thee well." Luna said, taking notice of his faint smile as he said it's meaning. "How about we mares take a delightful walk in Our Garden? We have been meaning to share Our blooming flowers for quite a long time now."

"N-Now?" Pinkie said as she was gently pushed by the tall alicorn. "I thought we could still hang out a little more." She said, glancing at Sombra.

"There shall be more time for such things later." Luna said as she turned to wink at Sombra. She was clearly just doing him the favor of giving him some time to rest. He returned the gesture with a half smile before being stared by the two stallions still left over.

"Well well well, what have we here?" Shining said as he referenced the wink. "You being popular is an understatement it seems."

"Eeyup." They both said with a teasing smile.

Sombra sighed as he feared he'll never hear the end of it. The three stallions began to walk around without any real destination, just looking around at the elegant scenery and aesthetics that were placed to make the Gala look great, it was no wonder why every pony wanted to come.

"So you're Applejack's older brother?" Shining asked, trying to start small talk.

"Eeyup." Big Mac stated with his chest out in pride.

"Must be hard to have your sister always in harms way, I know it is for me."


"What about you Sombra?"

"I've no siblings." He answered blankly.

"I know that, but you might have some family alive today, you know, generations still happen."

"...Yes, I know of a pony who is part of my lineage." Sombra said as he looked away.

"Oh? Who?"

"No pony I really wish to speak to."

"Oh come on, whatever bad blood you had with your family a thousand years ago, they aren't here anymore, you can find new family!"

"I'd rather not." Sombra said, still not comfortable to speak about the topic. Big Mac and Shining glanced at each other in a worried furrow of the brows, then, almost in sync, both smiled as a devious tease popped into their heads.

"Oh I see...." Shining said with a devilish grin, one that Sombra was already weary of.

"Where are you going with this?..."

"We understand what ya mean perfectly." Big Mac joined, getting on Sombra's other side as both began to press against him.

"Yeah! Instead of looking for your old family, you probably want to start a new family!"

A light blush betrayed Sombra's stoic expression as the subject quickly came into view. Quickly, he tried to push again from them. "You two seem to be quite interested in my personal life." He said, trying to change the subject.

"You're our friend, of course we want to get to know you."

"We've known each other for just over half an hour."

"Doesn't mean we can't be friends, does it?"

"Weren't ya the one who said that stallions click faster than mares?" Mac asked, competently throwing Sombra's argument out the window. Their sly smiles were beginning to give Sombra a head ache, and as he placed a hoof to his brow, spoke.

"I need a drink."

"Oh! I know where those are!" Shining shouted excitedly.

"Where do you keep all of your energy?" Sombra asked as the stallion began to remind him of Pinkie.

"I'm just always like this, Cadence says its my natural born gift."

"Or curse."



The party had officially started, and the doors to the castle had been open to the guests. Joining the masses, the three stallions made their way into the castle where they passed by others who were 'in line'. It wasn't anything required, but each guest usually wished to greet Celestia as they entered. Passing by every pony, they all nodded in a silent greeting at Celestia who returned the gesture before returning to her line.

Soon they entered the main hall, where the soft melody of string instruments were heard. It was a grandiose scene, the room being several dozens of meters in side all sides where every pony could comfortably stand on the sides or dance in the glossy floor. The three of them looked in awe as they walked around the sidelines, the dancing ponies posing majestically in their slow dance, Sombra in particular was interested in the dance, which caught his friend's attention.

"You gonna dance tonight?"

"I've no one to dance with."

"Yeah right." Shining teased. "Anyway, there they are.' He said as he pointed his hoof over to a small table. Many kinds of drinks were there, some even alcoholic. They were on their way to it when some pony intercepted them.

"Oh goodness! It is so good to see you again Prince Shining Armor." Another white stallion said.

"Oh, hello Blue Blood." Shining said, though the new comer wasn't too pleased with his introduction.

"Prince Blue Blood, that title is very important to a royal."

"Right, sorry."

"And you must be King Sombra!" Blue Blood said, turning to look at the dark stallion to look him up and down.

"Ex king."

"Oh don't be so modest, your title hasn't been revoked."

"A King can't be a King without a Kingdom to rule Blue Blood." Sombra responded with a distasteful voice. The stallion in front of him... he came from the Blood lineage, one he hated with a passion.

"We can talk philosophy later." Blue Blood said before turning to Big Mac. "You, how about you go get us some drinks?"

"He doesn't have to get you anything." Sombra stepped froward, holding back a growl of anger. Big Mac held his arm out as he hinted him to calm down.

"Sure thing."

Sombra tried to regain his composure to no avail. The mere presence of the stallion made his blood boil. Shining didn't seem to have a much better time handling him, his face giving off a rather apparent discomfort while speaking with him.

"It is so good to be around other male royals. I mean, the Princesses are great and all, but they don't understand what we have to go through."

"Oh the horrors of being groomed." Sombra said sarcastically. Big Mac, who was on his way back with the drinks, was carrying them all on a tray he was holding in his mouth. He made the mistake of walking next to Blue Blood who, for some sick humorous reason, decided it would be funny to stick his leg out to make him trip and drop all the drinks.

Sombra's horn glowed a crimson red as he caught a hold of all the falling glass before they could shatter on the ground. Shining helped Mac to his hooves as Blue Blood chuckled to himself.

"Commoners, they can't even do a simple task, am I right?" The stallion held a smile that sickened Sombra.

"No. You're wrong." Sombra said as he placed the drinks down. "But it comes down to more than that, you see, your whole existence is wrong. Nothing but a blight in society."

Blue Blood held a shocked expression as he heard Sombra speak. "What? How dare you?! Did you not hear who I am? Do you not know what influences I have?"

"Oh I know who you are, I probably know more about you than you even do." Sombra said, his patience at its end. "You are of the Blood lineage, a blood line of powerful unicorns who placed a large role of the founding of Canterlot. But you are also the last 'Blood' alive since their thirst for power made them kill each other off."

Sombra's voice echoed through out the room and soon ponies stopped what they were doing to listen in.

"So you were taken in by Celestia to keep you from going down the same path. You're nothing more than a pet under heavy surveillance to make sure you don't break anything. Now, if you dare try to hurt or humiliate my friends again, I will show you what kind of influences I have, and I am sure they are much more powerful than yours." Sombra finished with his eyes erupting in larger flames than were already set ablaze. After a few seconds of silence, Sombra cleared his throat and walked over to Blue Blood. "So in short. Shut up, or buck off. Ideally both in either order."

With a grin, Sombra gestures Shining and Big Mac to follow him. They walked away with a triumphant stride in which all three were walking head high and with a smile on their faces. Embarrassed by what had just happened. Blue Blood shouted out.

"What are you all looking at?!" In an instant, every pony went back to their conversation and the hall was soon filled with noise again. "You!" Blue Blood shouted at one of the butlers nearby.

"Yes sir?"

"I want to know everything about this 'King Sombra'. He knows a lot of my lineage, and I want to know why."

"Y-Yes sir."

As the butler ran off to do as he was told, Blue Blood glared at Sombra's back, now too far away to see any real details of his image. "Just who are you?"

36. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 3)

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"Aren't these just lovely?" Rarity said as she approached some unusual flowers, not yet in bloom. They were white and shaped like a thin five pointed star.

"The flowers have not yet come into bloom, once they do, they shall truly be a beautiful sight to behold." Luna said as she began to show every pony her garden. She had not lied in that part, she had indeed been working on a special kind of flower.

"So when will they bloom?" Twilight asked as she took a closer look. "They don't look like any flower I have seen."

"Of course not, for We have created them."

"You made them yourself?" This time a high pitched voice asked.

"Yes, one that blooms at night."

"But flowers and other plants need the sun to grow, how could they bloom at night?" Twilight asked, completely confused by the oddity in front of her. It simply did not make logical sense to her.

"While it is true most flowers require the sun, I made these to specifically bloom in my moon's radiance."

"Do you have a name for it yet?" Fluttershy asked, she too joining Twilight in her close inspection.

"Not as of yet. Though We do not wish to make it too extravagant. A modest name would suffice."

"How about just the Moon Flower?"

"Hmm, simple and just to it's beginnings. Yes! We love it. Do you hear dear Moon Flower? Thy name hast been chosen." Luna said to the delicate flower, her love and care for it in clear view.

"A small flower that needs the dark to fully blossom..." Fluttershy said to herself as stallions came into view. She smiled as she saw Sombra and the others walk their way. "Reminds me of some pony."

"Hi love." Shining called out to his wife. She turned to see him and a soft smile spread across her face.

"Hey there, what took you guys so long?"

"We got...caught up with Blue Blood." Shining said while looking away.

"He didn't do anything he'll regret did he?" Rarity asked, she was already too familiar with the stallion to know he would not have a change of heart since last year.

"He did, and I'm sure he already regrets it." Sombra said, a small grin upon his face. The feeling of victory over the poor unexpected stallion still fresh on his mind.

"Don't tell me you guys fought."

"I am more civilized than to start a brawl at a party, but I am sure he won't live down the embarrassment of being publicly humiliated any time soon."

"You didn't."

"I did."

Every pony remained quiet for a moment before they all bursted into laughter. As much as Blue Blood had gotten on their nerves, none had the actual courage to tell him off themselves. Sombra, of course, cared little for his reputation as of late, so he did not hold any punches.

"Umm, Sombra." Fluttershy began. "Would you, I mean if you don't mind...Do you think you could accompany me to the gardens out by the fountain? I want to go see the animals there but don't want to go alone."

Sombra raised a brow at the fidgeting mare who could not seem to keep still despite her best intentions to do so. "I suppose I've nothing else to do." He said as he took a quick glance at Pinkie who was pouting at her pegasus friend.

"Great!" Fluttershy almost shouted out in excitement.

"Lead the way." Sombra said as he gestured the mare to go first. As the left Rarity approached the pouting mare.

"I didn't expect her to actually make a move, less so this soon into the night." She said, surprised at her friend's actions.

"Jeez! If this keeps up, I won't be able to spend any time with Sombrie."

"Worry not fair Pinkie Pie, the night is still young." Luna said as she placed a wing around her. As she tried to comfort the pink mare, Rarity couldn't help but wonder what the Moon Goddess's role was, after all, she always seems to be on Sombra's side.

"Princess Luna, I don't mean to pry, but what is your relationship with Sombra exactly?"

Luna smile as she looked over at the silhouettes of Sombra and Fluttershy, now too far away see them clearly. "That of friendship We suppose would be the right word."

"Just friendship?"

"Well, We must admit that Sombra is quite the splendid stallion and that we share many interests and similarities, but in the end, what I feel doesn't really matter now does it?"

"What do you mean?" Pinkie asked, raising her head to Luna.

"One cannot win over a heart that has already been conquered. It is Sombra's choice to pick who he wishes to be romantically involved with, not any pony else's, don't you agree?"

"I suppose you're right..." Rarity said as she glanced at Pinkie.

"Though, that does not mean one cannot try." Luna said with a wink. "After all, all is fair in love and war."


Finding a quiet spot near the garden fountain, Sombra and Fluttershy sat down as they waited, though for what, Sombra wasn't entirely sure.

"Pray tell, what are we doing?" He asked, looking around a the quiet surrounding.

"Well, last time I was here I got super frustrated with the garden animals because they didn't seem to like me."

"That's hard to imagine. I've read about your feats when it comes to animals."

"Yes well, I know now I just went about it the wrong way."

"So what is the right way to go about it?" Sombra asked, but before he could get a response, he felt something land on his head. Calm and slowly, he glanced up to see a small red bird sitting on his head.

"The trick, is getting them to come to you." Fluttershy finally responded with a smile. Before they knew it, many birds of all colors and sizes began to flock around them. Most of them, however, landing on the stoic stallion who didn't seem to mind them using him as a perch. "They seem to like you."

"No idea why." He said as he looked around, trying the best he could not to move to rapidly.

"You're just so kind and gentle with them. You're the same with kids too!" Fluttershy said, remembering the stories she heard of Sombra.

"I just treat them best I know how. Children are easy to read. Innocent and fragile. I was born into a world of war and misery. I want to preserve the innocence of children lest they go through what I went through."

"And the birds?"

"I guess they just think my mane is a nest." Sombra joked. As he began to interact with the animals, Fluttershy couldn't help but blush at him and how good he was with animals, or at least the birds.

Sombra had been away from the main party, meaning that his flames had stopped their combustion, something the birds seem to appreciate. One of the smaller ones, a bird who by the looks of it just learned how to fly, landed on Sombra's muzzle. Standing at the edge of the last white arrow on his black mane, they stared at each other blankly for a while, Sombra's stoic expression competing with the bird trying to break him out of it.

The small bird swayed back and forth and made small faces at him in an effort to get a reaction, but the dark 'perch' was not amused. The only response he received was the raise of an eye brow. Finally the bird gave up and sat down in disappointment, causing Sombra to chuckle.

"No one beats me at a staring contest small one." He said with a slight smile.

As Fluttershy and Sombra continued to sit with the birds surrounding them, they heard the echo of hooves passing close by, and by the sound of it, getting closer. They were just two ponies from the party who too wanted to get away. A stallion trying to court a mare by the motions of them.

Even though the other stallion seemed calm and collected, Sombra's eyes began to spark into flames, proving otherwise. The stallion was afraid of messing up his chances with the mare. Fluttershy noticed his flames began to come out and gasped because the sudden combustion would surely scare the birds away. To her surprise, however, the flock of birds didn't even budge. Even the one sitting on Sombra's muzzle seemed alright with the dark flames extending out from his eyes.

"Oh my, I thought they would fly away."

"I did too." Sombra said as he glanced around to the birds. "Seems they don't care that they could turn into fried chicken in an instant." As he spoke, the small bird blew a raspberry at him. Fluttershy giggled as she saw them interact.

"Still, maybe dark magic just doesn't bother them." Sombra said as he picked up the small bird and put them down. "Honestly speaking I don't know all that much about dark magic other than how it works and what I can do with it. It's origin and even meaning in our world is a mystery to me."

"You'll figure it out one day."

"Yeah, maybe."

"Well what have we here?" A voice interrupted their conversation, a voice both of them recognized for different reasons.

"Discord?" Fluttershy asked out with a smile.

"Who else could it be?" One of the birds asked out, it's eyes yellow and red like the original body. Still smiling, Fluttershy hugged the small animal before Discord turned back to return the embrace.

"You're a little late." She said, pulling away to talk.

"You're friends would not leave me alone."


"Applejack and Rainbow Dash. They think that I would cause a mess, but really, I can't top the chaos you all made from the year prior." As he said this, Fluttershy blushed, remembering her...moment from the last year.

"This I have to hear." Sombra said from the ground, still a perch to many birds.

"Nonononono-"The mare began, but it was too late, Discord had already used his magic to bring out a screen to start a movie. A small countdown. After that, a quick successions of mishaps began to come into view. First Pinkie taking her partying a little overboard for a formal gathering followed by Applejack's cake being thrown towards Rarity and Blue Blood. The stallion used the white mare as a shield, and in retaliation, Rarity began to throw bits of cake to the groomed prince, in his stumbling, he knocked down a statue that Rainbow tried to keep from falling, but to no avail. After the fall of many pillars around the hall, everything became rather quiet as every pony looked around at the chaos.

"That does seem rather 'messy'." Sombra said with a chuckle.

"Oh we haven't even gotten to the best part yet." The draconequus said as Fluttershy burst into the hall.

'You're going to LOVE me!' The Fluttershy in the screen shouted out as animals ran away from her and into the hall. The one in the real world did her best to hide behind her mane as embarrassment took over.

"Is this what you meant by 'frustrated'?" Sombra asked the beet red mare.

"Yes..." She said meekly. The two 'reformed villains' did their best to hold back their laughter knowing that Fluttershy probably would not take it very well, but it was still rather humorous to see her act in such a strange opposite to her usual personality.

"There you are!" A voice shouted out as a rainbow bolt landed near the trio.

"Slow down Rainbow!" Another voice shouted as it came close to them.

"It seems I've been found again." Discord said with a smile as Rainbow Dash and Applejack approached them, causing the birds that were on Sombra to fly away. He looked disappointed as they went away.

"Ah should have guessed ya would be with Fluttershy." Applejack said as she fixed her hat that had gotten out of place from running.

"Fluttershy! What are you doing with Discord and Sombra?" Rainbow asked out, almost aggressively.

"Well, I just wanted to spend some time with Sombra and then Discord came by and-" Fluttershy had began, but quickly grew to a stop as her friends raised an eye brow at her. "I mean, it's just that Sombra saved me and...and." Fluttershy fumbled with her words. She wasn't exactly ready to tell others of her crush, especially now in front of Sombra. As she tried to get a word out, Discord leaned over to the dark stallion who was getting to his hooves.

"This is our chance to get away."

"And leave Fluttershy behind?" Sombra asked the chaos god.

"Who has a better chance of coming out unscathed? Fluttershy against her friends or us?"

"Point taken."

With a snap of Discord's fingers, the two of them were gone, leaving behind the mares who were not all too pleased with being juked around.


"Awww, where's Sombrie?" Pinkie asked out as she slouched on the table she and her friend were at, the rest of them were off enjoying the party, leaving just her and Rarity behind.

"Patience Pinkie." Rarity said as she took a sip of her drink. "I'm sure that Sombra will be here an second now to sweep you of your hooves." She said with a smile.

"Ha ha, very funny. You know Sombrie isn't that kind of stallion."

"You never know, he might surprise you."

"Well I do like surprises." She replied with a giggle. "But he's probably having lots of fun with Fluttershy, I can't compete with her."

"You're not giving yourself enough credit dear."

"But Fluttershy is cute and graceful and kind. I'm just" Pinkie said as she gestured to herself, but unknown to her, Sombra and discord materialized behind her, the dark stallion only catching the latter part of her statement.

"And is there something wrong with you Pinkamena?" He asked nonchalantly.

"Wha!? Where did you come from?!" Pinkie shouted out in shock. Sombra didn't seem fazed in the slightest by the situation, he took a seat next to them.

"We just barely escaped from a life or death situation." Discord said with a grin before taking notice of the others near the refreshments and proceeded to fly away to pester Twilight and her family, all in good fun no doubt.

Noticing who was left at the table, Rarity stood up and began to make her way to the others as well. "I'm quite famished, I'll go get something to drink." She said, giving an excuse to her actions.

"I could get it for you if you wish." Sombra said, but his offer was denied.

"Goodness no. You said you just escaped a deadly situation, you should rest." She said as she stuck her tongue at Sombra in a teasing manner. His only response was return her gaze with annoyance.

Pinkie and Sombra were left alone in awkward silence, mostly for Pinkie who was not ready for the situation at hoof. Sombra, however, was more interested in the dancing ponies close by. They had a clear view where they were sitting and Sombra was ery much enjoying their graceful movements.

"Do you like to dance?" Pinkie asked, noticing the dark stallion looking over at the dance floor.

"I'm just...melancholy. This entire situation, it reminds me of my time as king." Sombra said before looking away. "I must sound like a broken record, always bringing that up."

"That just means you were really passionate about being king."

"Not really, I just-...I suppose old habits die hard." He said as he went back to looking at a dancing couple.

"It's always nice to look back and enjoy the good old times." Some pony said from behind them. Agatha stood close to Sombra who had trouble looking at her in the eye.

"H-Hello Agatha."

"It's good to see you Sombra."

"I find that hard to believe." He said as he stood up to greet her properly. "I was quite rude to you last we met, and even more so before then."

"Nothing an apology won't fix." Agatha said with a soft smile. Sombra returned the gesture as he bowed his head.

"I'm sorry for acting the way I did. It was wrong of me."

"Apology accepted." She responded with a small laugh. "Really though, you're much too formal with me. Aren't we suppose to be friends?"

"I suppose we are." Sombra said with a light chuckle, glancing to the pink mare watching them, he gestured Pinkie to stand up. "This is Pinkamena Diane Pie, my reformer."

"It's nice to meet you!" Pinkie said in a cheery voice.

"The pleasure is all mine. I must say, you did a wonder with Sombra in bringing him back to his old self."

"Well...I don't think I really did all that much. Sombrie here just kinda figured it all out on his own."

"Sombrie?" Agatha said, giving Sombra a jestful look.

"Don't ask." He said, avoiding the question. "But Pinkamena is simply being modest. Her presence alone helped me."

"Say, Princess Luna's moon is beautiful tonight, how about we all go out and talk in the courtyard. It will certainly be less crowded than here." Agatha requested. Pinkie and Sombra looked at each other before nodding, there really wasn't any reason to stay inside anyway, and by the look of things, more and more ponies were beginning to come into the dance hall.

Walking outside, they were greeted with a delightful breeze that allowed them all to get a breath of fresh air. Pinkie was the first one to run ahead and spin around looking at all the pretty decorations. It was part of her career to know how to decorate for parties, but this was something on another level for her.

"Having fun?" Sombra asked as Pinkie bumped into him, dizzy from spinning.

"A blast Sombrie" She responded, looking up at the stallion. They remained still until Pinkie realized that they had been staring into each other's eyes for a little too long, causing her to blush slightly making her break eye contact. Agatha smiled as she saw them interact, their care for one another apparent for all to see, probably all but each other. In her distraction, the old librarian didn't notice a white stallion walk by her.

"Though 'Sombrie' isn't his name now is it?" Blue Blood asked as he came close to the duo. Sombra instantly recognized the voice and turned around with an annoyed expression.

"That's right, to you it's Sombra." He replied dryly.

"But even that isn't your real name, right?" Blue Blood stated as he dropped a folder filled with many different files on the ground between them. "At least, not the one you were born with....Elite Blood."

Sombra stood still as he stared at the stallion smirking at him. Slowly he turned to face him and calmly looked at him, not willing to fall into his taunts.

"I managed to find quite a few interesting things about you. You'd be surprised what kind of stuff our records keeps up with, even from a thousand years ago."

"That's enough Blue Blood."

"I was wondering why you knew so much about my heritage, then I found a few documents that spoke of a strange member of my family. Born of an Earth Pony mother and a Unicorn father, Elite Blood was given the birth right of becoming a prince as part of the Blood linage, like me."

"Be quiet Blue Blood."

"But because he was just a half breed, his magic was not able to compete with the others of his family, and so one day he was excommunicated in what was then called, 'The Endless Winter Wild Lands'. Dishonored and stripped of his title, he was left for dead, never to be heard from since then."

"Silence Blue Blood!" Sombra shouted out, finally unable to hold back his anger. "I am not Elite Blood anymore, I am Sombra!"

"Yes, I suppose you are. But which Sombra are you hmm? Sombra the savior of Ponyville? Or Sombra the Tyrant of the Crystal Empire?" Blue Blood asked, still trying to push the buttons of the stallion who was using all of his will power to restrain himself from murdering the white prince in front of him.

"S-Sombrie?" Pinkie asked as she looked at the stallion trembling in anger. By this time, many ponies were beginning to come into the courtyard to see who it was that had shouted, among them were the other of the elements and royals who were surprised to see Sombra and Blue Blood facing off.

Liking the large audience he managed to get from the confrontation, Blue Blood took a step forward towards Sombra. "I here by challenge you to a Duel of the Blood. How about it Elite? Care to put your weak magic to the test?"

37. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 4)

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"Are you mad?!" Sombra shouted out as he confronted his Blood relative.

"Mad? Of course not, I'm just acting as any Blood would. After all, I have been the last of my kind for years, who would pass up the opportunity to fight another after such amazing news?" Blue Blood responded, and unlike Sombra, held a smirk that only made him want to tear it off of him.

"You can take him!" Rarity shouted, cheering for her favorite of the two. Sombra only scuffed at her voice, using his magic to pick up the folder between him and Blue Blood and tossing it in their direction. Twilight didn't waste time and caught it mid flight, opening it and skimming through it. Many ponies gathered around her until she found what Sombra wanted her to see.

"When a Duel of the Blood is challenged, neither party can refuse..." She began to read out loud. "The duel must continue until a winner is decided by either forfeit...." Twilight stopped mid sentence and looked up at the two stallions. "Or death..."

As she finished her sentence, many ponies around her gasped. What was Blue Blood thinking? Something like this had no place in their peaceful world, even less at a party like this.

"This is a public execution." Sombra said as he swung his arm in a disapproving gesture.

"This is a duel. And no pony can stop it now, not even Celestia. She gave her word that we Bloods could fight one another when ever we wished, after all, that was their only condition for 'staying in line'."

"He's right." Twilight said as she continued to read the documents. "This is a legal duel between two...Bloods." Twilight said as she looked up at Sombra. She couldn't really believe that he and Blue Blood were related, even less that he was considered 'weak' by his family.

"Now then Half Breed, shall we get started?" Blue Blood asked, his devilish smirk still plastered against his face. Keeping his head lowered, Sombra thought for a while. He couldn't exactly refuse as a Blood, but he was stripped of his name, he wasn't part of the lineage technically. His gritted his teeth in frustration, baring his fangs as he did.

"Sombrie?" Pinkie said in a hushed voice, a little too soft for Sombra to hear.

"Let's get this over with, Blue Blood." Sombra said as he raised his head, stomping down on ground, black crystal erupting from the ground around them in a circle, giving them an arena.

"Indeed, Elite Blood." The white counter part responded as he stood tall and his chest out. Jerking his head to the side to move some of his blonde mane, Blue Blood began the assault on Sombra by sending out a small blue energy bolt to the sky. Sombra knew this technique, readying himself, he awaited for the queue he had studied ages ago.

"Lets see you deal with this Elite." Blue Blood said as the bolt exploded, letting down a rain of thin energy shards. A single touch of the shards would cut and burn on the spot. One of the advanced spells of the Bloods, one Sombra was much too familiar with.

"You have to do better than that Blue Blood." Sombra said as a Crystal Pillar extended from the ground behind him, once high enough, the tip expanded into a plate shape, shielding the entirety of the attack.

"Chee." Blue Blood scoffed, his smile finally gone. "Then try this on for size!" He said as he took a grounded posture, charging his blue magic into his horn with all his might. Again, Sombra recognized the technique, causing him to open his eyes wide. While Blue Blood continued to charge up, Sombra raised himself on his hind legs before stomping down will a great deal of force, causing the surroundings to quake.

His flames in full throttle, Sombra used his strength to summon out his red crystals all around him just as his opponent set off his attack. The blast was as he had foreseen, a straight blast the size of a full ground stallion. The Red Crystal pillars were used as mirrors that managed to reflect the large attack onto one another, finally, after the blast lost some of it's momentum, bounced it off into the night sky, where it exploded in a brutal light show. Many of the spectators looked in awe at the lights in the distance.

"What were you thinking?!" Sombra shouted out. "That spell could have leveled all of Canterlot Castle!"

"Is that true? I didn't realize I had that kind of power." Blue Blood said, ignoring what the consequences his actions could have brought to those around him. "Maybe now that we have one another, we can help each other grow stronger." He said with a smile.

"You fool!" Sombra shouted as he felt himself start to lose his composure. Again he clenched his sharp teeth again. "Have you no sense of nobility? What kind of royal would endanger the citizens of the kingdom he lives in?"

"Please, as if any pony sees me and their Prince. You said it yourself, I am simply 'Celestia's nephew', and nothing more."

"Because you haven't given them a reason for them to think of you as something else!"

"Enough talk, this is a duel!"

"Quite..." Sombra said, getting into a battle pose. "And as our contract as Bloods say....we aren't allowed to hold back. On guard!" He shouted, giving his opponent a heads up, it was now his turn to be on the attacking side.

Running as fast as he could, Sombra dashed in a straight line to Blue Blood, something the white stallion thought was a mistake. Blue Blood used his first spell once more, this time directed straight at Sombra. Exploding mid flight, it expanded and curved towards him. In response, Sombra shifted his physical form into that of a smoke cloud, completely passing through the spell while simultaneously raising up the edge of the arena to keep the shards from hitting the spectators.

Engulfing Blue Blood in the black cloud, he began to cough as he tried to gasp for air to breath. Feeling that his opponent was staggered for long enough, Sombra reconstructed himself behind the white stallion and with a hearty kick, slammed his hind hooves against Blue Blood's back, knocking him back a few meters.

"There are benefits to being half Earth Pony." Sombra said as he slowly turned around to face the stallion struggling to his hooves.

"You dare disgrace a duel of magic with a simple buck?!" He shouted in anger, his mane out of place and messy.

"You're implying that a Duel of the Blood was graceful to being with."

"How dare you! Elite, you may only be half a Blood, even you should hold respect to your heritage."

"My name is Sombra!" The dark stallion shouted as they both of them sent out a charged bolt of magic, though Sombra only used his normal supply of inner magic, the bolts clashed in red and blue in the center of the arena, sending out sparks of purple as their magic intertwined.

Taking this chance to fix his mane, Blue Blood jerked his head as he got his blonde mane out of his face. His opponent, however, was no where to be found. Looking around, Blue Blood, nerves were beginning to falter, the absence of Sombra only making him viable for a sneak attack.

"You run and hide?!"

"Blue Blood." Sombra's voice called out from all around him. "You and I were born in different time periods. I was raised into war, and you into royalty. I know how to fight through experience, you studied your spells and tactics. You are outmatched." He said, a shadow moved across one of the crystal pillars in the arena. The white prince continued to look around in desperation, constantly turning in circles, unaware of the shadow leering in the crystals.

"Show yourself coward!" Blue Blood shouted out. Just as he turned around once more, Sombra appeared in front of him, staring him down.

"Who's the one afraid here?" Sombra asked, his stoic expression unwavering as Blue Blood's eyes turned to see his dark counter part, his mind suddenly filled with terror. The sudden eruption of his flame shone brightly against Blue Blood as sweat began to fall down his forehead from his fright.

They remained locked in position as Blue Blood struggled to move, but his fear did not allow him. He was frozen, and unable to react. In any pony's eyes, the true victor was already apparent. Sombra could kill him now and win; be rid of him, but he didn't.

"Give up Blue Blood." Sombra said, not willing to shed any blood this day.

"N-Never!"He shouted back at him, jumping a few meters backwards and beginning his assault again. sending out various bolts of blue magic, easily reflected by Sombra, erecting and degrading pillars of crystal to match the attack pattern. "A true Blood would die before admitting defeat."

"And that is exactly why you are the last one."

"We are the last ones!"

"I am not Elite Blood!"

"Do not deny your heritage!" The blasts escalating with each shout, Blue Blood finished his volley with one last charged attack, the same one as before. Just like previously, Sombra readied his red Crystals to reflect the attack, but what he did not anticipate, was the sudden appearance of a pegasus by the edge of the arena.

"W-What's going on?" Fluttershy asked as she peeked over the crystal hedge Sombra had place down. The sudden sound of her voice made Blue Blood turn his head, and with his horn redirected, his attack too changed angle.

"Get down!" Pinkie shouted as she ran up to Fluttershy and tried to get her out of the way, but it was too late, the spell was cast.

A large explosion was seen as both Pinkie and Fluttershy were seen make contact with the attack. Blue Blood stood in awe as the area around the impact was torn apart and destroyed.

"Fluttershy! Pinkie!" Twilight called out, but before she and her friends could run to their aid, a small whimpering behind them drew their attention. In Discords arms laid Fluttershy who had been teleported by his magic to the safety of his arms.

"And Pinkie?" Rarity asked the chaos god.

"I did not expect the pink mare to run to her, I only used my magic on Fluttershy." He responded, glancing over at the smoking area of the impact in a serious manner, something very unlike him.

"Amazing!" Blue Blood shouted. "I never really used my magic before. It is no wonder we Bloods were so feared."

"Blue Blood!" Sombra shouted from inside the smoke. Using the end of his coat as a fan, Sombra blew away all the smoke and debris around him, Pinkie safe in his arms. "Do you not realize what could have happened?!"

"Chee, casualties are common in Duels of the Blood." He responded as he waved his hoof.

That was it, Sombra's patience and restrain had run dry. It was one thing to start a petty fight, but another entirely to put others in danger. Erecting a pillar behind him as he came to his hooves; using it as an extension of the ground, he extended another pillar from it, propelling him towards the prince at high speeds. Twisting his body around, Sombra used his hoof to grab a hold of him by the mane and slamming him overhead by the shear amount of momentum the dash had granted him.

Using more pillars, he would lift the stallion from the ground only to slam more into him, each time he fell, he would only be brought back to his hooves by force. Finally Sombra used a larger pillar to hit him and push him while simultaneously erecting another one for him to slam into after he was propelled.

Bloodied and bruised, Blue Blood struggled to his hooves as he laughed to himself. "Yes...that's how a true Blood fights!"

Sombra walked slowly towards him as the staggering stallion tried to counter attack, but the any bolt or blast sent his way was block by black crystals allowing Sombra to take his time getting back face to face with his relative. Once in close range, Blue Blood took to a hoof fight and tried to land an attack on Sombra, but the dark stallion grabbed the hoof and twisted him around, holding his arm behind his back. Slamming Blue Blood through the crystal pillar that had kept him in place before and landing hard on the ground, the white stallion looked up as Sombra summoned crystal spears that floated in mid air as he readied his final attack.

"That's right Elite, give me a Blood's death. There is no better way for one of our kind to die than in combat!" Blue Blood shouted out as he saw the pointed spear shin in the light.

Sombra was ready and willing to end it, to just finish him off, but as he panted from his assault, he noticed Pinkie in the reflection of his crystal shards. A horrified mare who stared at him with sad eyes. Taking a moment to look around, every pony spectating shared the same expression. One of fear and horror, a familiar situation he had been in a Tyrant.

With a final shout into the night sky, Sombra slammed his spears down, the crowd quiet as they saw his actions. "I am not like you Blue Blood!" He screamed at the still alive stallion, his spears only piercing the ground around him, locking him in place, trapped in dark crystal. "I am not a Tyrant anymore!" He said as he turned around, walking away a few meters.

"Do not kid yourself Elite! We all saw your glee as you fought with all your might. You are a Blood through and through!"

"No! I am not..." Sombra said as he turned his head, looking at his handy work. The once neatly groomed Blue Blood laid in a puddle of his own blood, his white coat barely visible over the bruises he got. "I forfeit, I will not kill you...or any pony for that matter!" He shouted into the heavens as he continued to make his way out of the arena, repelling the crystal around them to signify the end of the duel. Pinkie, happy at the choice he had made, ran to him.

"Sombrie!" She said happily. "I'm so-" She began but stopped when she noticed him with his head lowered. Gritting his teeth, Sombra gently pushed Pinkie out of the way as he continued to walk, every pony quickly moved out of his way as he walked by. Sombra could feel it...their fear for him, the fear of a Blood, the fear of a Tyrant.

Using his dark magic, Sombra became a cloud of smoke and flew up into the dark sky where his presence disappeared from view. Pinkie looked up after him and stood still as her friends rushed to her side.

"Pinkie are you okay?!" Rarity asked.

"I-I'm fine, but Sombrie, he..."

"He is struggling." Discord interrupted, getting a strange glance from every pony around, Fluttershy, who he was still carrying, softly came to her hooves.

"D-Do you think he is alright?"

"Him? What about Blue Blood?! Look how he left him." Cadence shouted, not too happy about what happened to his adopted family member.

"He had it coming!" Rarity shouted. "How could that brute challenge Sombra to a duel after just finding out they were related?"

"Who is the brutal one?" Cadence asked out.

"Dear please, Rarity is right, Blue Blood was kinda asking for it." Shining said, trying to defend his new friend.

"But just look at what he can do! Even if Blue Blood did deserve it, it doesn't change the fact that Sombra is dangerous."

"No he's not!" Pinkie shouted, her voice about to crack and her eyes watering. "Sombrie saved me! He's saved every pony here at least once! He is a good stallion, he is reformed! We can't keep holding him responsible for some of his past actions or he'll never get passed it!" She screamed out. All her friends remained quiet as they tried to take in what she said.

"I...I....I have to go find him!" She said before running off. Those she left behind continued to be silent as they thought about Sombra.

"He...he did choose not to kill Blue Blood." Cadence said. "Plenty of times he could have just killed him and end it. I suppose he just wanted to give Blue Blood a chance to surrender himself." She said, trying to find some sort of reason to Sombra's actions.

Twilight remained quiet as well, but for different reasons. Holding her chin with her hoof, her thoughts ran rampant as she remembered just how powerful Sombra was in that fight. Nothing Blue Blood did even came close to scratching him. As she was in awe of his power, Twilight's eyes flashed red, a smile slowly spreading across her face.

"Twilight?" Shining asked out to her, knocking her back to reality.


"We're going to go look for Sombra too, are you coming?"



Staring off into the night sky, Sombra sat on a tower's roof in solitude. He couldn't get the frightened faces of the ponies out of his head. Sombra shook his head violently as he struggled to rid himself of the image in his mind. Giving up, he let out a sigh and simply sat quietly awaiting for night to pass, however, as he ran still, a strange scent came over his sense. He quickly jumped down and landed in front of a mare who wasn't too surprised to have him just pop up like that.

"You caused quite a bit of chaos." The mare said with a soft smile.

"What are you doing here? I spared you once, don't think I will do it again."

"Oh? I thought you said you wouldn't kill any pony." She teased, moving around him and brushing her tail against his muzzle.

"I doubt Changelings count, Chrysalis." Sombra said with an annoyed voice, moving away from her.

"I come in peace, I promise." She said, facing him again.

"Just what are you doing here? Feeding I presume?" Sombra asked as he moved around to inspect the form Chrysalis had taken to hide her identity. A small mare with a bright blue coat and a neatly combed purple mane. Her dress was nothing to write home about, but as a changeling, the idea was not to draw any attention so it made sense.

"A different kind of feeding." She said as she began to walk away, gesturing him to follow. Hesitantly, Sombra did so. "Our last encounter left me with a thought that perhaps we could live in harmony, ponies and changelings."

"I doubt it, you feed on us." He replied without looking at her. He was more focused on where ever
she was trying to bring him to.

"But I have been experimenting ways of feeding without killing, after all, everything deserves to live, right?" She asked with a smile. Sombra simply glanced over at her, his mood in no better condition than before. "But enough about that, you have something on your mind, want to talk about it?"


"I suppose I probably wouldn't be the right pony to talk to." Chrysalis said as she continued to lead Sombra somewhere. "But you really should get it out of your chest. It isn't a good idea to harbor all those feelings inside you." She said, turning a corner and pointing at a pink mare running around like mad. They exchanged glances as Sombra sighed. "Go on, I know you want to speak to her."

"And just how do you know that?"

"I feed on love, so I can tell where one's love is nested."

"You boast too much." Sombra said as he stepped towards Pinkie, still unaware of the duo.

"And you're too uptight." Chrysalis said as he made his way to the mare. She smiled as she went back to around the corner.

Pinkie glanced around in a panicked manner, no doubt looking for what was right behind her. In her sudden movements, she accidentally bumped against Sombra who remained still, his expression stoic, though his eyes with a hint of sadness in them as he looked down at her.

"Sombrie!" She shouted out. "I'm so glad I found you. I-"

"Why are you looking for me?" Sombra asked out, interrupting her.

"Well...I didn't- you." She began, struggling to come up with a coherent sentence. Taking a deep breath, Pinkie gathered some courage to speak. "I saw that you were sad and wanted to be there for you!" She shouted to the stallion just inches away from her. Despite the sudden ear jerker, Sombra still remained silent as he thought of what he should do.

"Pinkamena..." He said as he stared into her troubled eyes.


"Let me tell you a story of a Banished Prince."

38. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 5)

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Sombra and Pinkie walked around the Castle ground, making sure to keep clear of any of the other guests for now. As they walked next to each other, Pinkie felt a little awkward, though it wasn't the first time they've been so quiet with one another, this time Sombra held an eerie expression with saddened eyes, a look of such depression that it made her heart ache for him.

Making their way around one of the walls, they reached a dead end. The mare wanted to say something, but as she opened her mouth, she decided against it while Sombra continued his walk. Only a few feet away from the wall, Sombra came to a stop before slowly turning to Pinkie and holding his hoof out.

The memory of Sombra doing that once before came to the mare, though unlike then, his eyes had more of a shine to them. Like before, Pinkie reached for his hoof, hesitating to touch him inches before making contact. She looked up to him, the patient stallion still waiting for her to grab on. Building some courage, Pinkie finally took a hold of him. Gently Sombra pulled her in close and wrapped just one arm around her as the ground beneath them shook, a crystal pillar lifted them up to the rooftop.

Stepping on to the roof, they were greeted by a beautiful array of stars and the gorgeous moon in the sky. Pinkie's eyes sparkled at the sight as Sombra slowly walked to the edge. His mane and coat gently moving in the wind, he placed himself just beside the view of the courtyard, the damage from the battle still there in plain sight.

His eyes still dull, Sombra turned to face the pink mare and spoke with a deep tone, the wind still pressing against his side keeping his mane and clothes in motion, reminiscent of how he looked when he had appeared as King Sombra during his attack on the Crystal Empire.

"I was born out of wed lock." He began, not losing eye contact with Pinkie. "My mother worked as a maid for the Blood family. My father was the head of the family back then...Grand Blood."


"Elite Blood!" A loud voice echoed through the great halls of palace. A small colt, who had been peacefully reading perked his ears up. Knowing the routine, he stood up placed his book aside. Just as he came to attention, the door to his room slammed open.

"What are you doing here child?" A tall white stallion shouted at him. The colt used to the volume of his voice, remained unfazed.

"I was readying father." He responded, his head high and straight forward.

"You should be at the gates, or have you forgotten about our guests?"

"No, Sir."

"Good, then get to it, and don't you dare disgrace our family."

"Never father." The colt responded before calmly, but quickly making his way out of the room and to his destination. As he passed by, the stallion kept an intimidating stare on him, one Elite had grown used to and just took as his father's normal expression. Exiting and closing the door behind him, Grand Blood looked around his son's room. Glancing back and forth, he found the book Elite had been reading, and just as he had thought, it was a spell book.

With a scoff, Grand threw it to the side. "Chee, he requires guidance in magic still? By his age any true Blood should be able to perform feats many times as grand as the ones in this tome."

Elite, who had since lost his composure after shutting his door, took a deep breath as he was finally able to relax, but he got moving, knowing his father would not stay in there for long. If he had to guess, his father would probably be looking through the book he mentioned he was reading. He did have a habit of being completely aware of what Elite read, saying that only certain books were adequate for a Blood to read.

Elite took small steps as he began to make his way to the gates to greet the up coming 'guests'. He had gone through similar situations before, this ponies, usually stallions, would come to the Blood Palace to challenge one of the top tier of the Bloods to a duel. More often than naught, it was his father Grand Blood who was challenged. He always made quick work of them.

As he walked, he came across a hall with a whole wall a window for him to see through. In the glass he managed to catch a glimpse of himself in his reflection. Stopping mid trot, Elite stared intently at himself in the glass. Like all Blood's he wore bright blue eyes, but unlike all others of his family, had a grey coat instead of a white one. His only implication that he might be a Blood were two small white arrows on his muzzle almost like a birth mark. Elite reached for the white on his muzzle and pressed his hoof against them, a frown upon his face.

"Elite?" A gentle voice called out to him. In reflex, the colt jumped and stood at attention but quickly calmed down when he saw who it was that spoke.

"Mother!" Elite called out before running to the mare carrying a basket of laundry. Nuzzling against the kneeling mare, Elite took a step back and looked at his tired mother. Her coat gray and her mane black, it was easy to see where he got his own color scheme from. Aside from her being an Earth Pony, he was a spitting image of her...that and the heavy bags under her eyes from exhaustion.

"It's good to see you little Elite." She said as she placed her basket down. "How have you been?"

"I've been great mother. Well, as well as I can be with all the studying and meetings father brings me to." He responded with a gleaming smile. Even though they lived under the same roof, he rarely got to see his mother, she was always busy with work, always tired, and orders always being barked at her. Though it pained him to see her this way, every time he tried to intervene she would stop him.

"That's very good, but as I hear it, the Blood house hold has guests. I think you're needed down stairs at the gates."

"Yes mother, I was just on my way."

"Then hurry along, you don't want to make your father angry."

With a nod, Elite began to run down the hall to his destination, his grin never leaving his face. Picking up the basket and placing it on her back, the mare waved bye. The smile he had worn while speaking to her soon soon faded as a clock sounded from the other room, Grand Blood finally exiting his son's room and walking down the hall, ignoring the mare entirely.

"Cutting it pretty close, Emerald." He said in a hushed voice as he passed her, still not looking her way. Emerald kept her head down as he passed, a saddened look on her face.

Turning the corner and leaving Emerald behind, the mare stood still for a moment as she placed a hoof to her mouth as she tried her best to keep from crying. The coldness of her former lover tore her apart every time they crossed paths, but she knew in her heart, this was her fate, her's and his as well.

"At least I got to see Elite today." Emerald said a she felt a single tear drip down her cheek and trace her chin until falling down onto the ground, the halls was so silent at the moment that the sound of the drop hitting the floor echoed ever so softly.


"Any sign of him?" Shining Armor asked the crowd of mares as he showed up for their regroup.

"Not even one." Rarity said as she turned to face him. "What about you and Cade- huh? Where is Princess Cadence?"

"Oh, she went to help Blue Blood out of the crystal prison Sombra had left him in." He said as he joined the circle.

"Why would she wanna help him of all ponies?" Applejack asked, she and Rainbow Dash had been briefed on the situation and they too had began to look for Sombra.

"Despite what you girls think of Blue Blood, he and Cadence are in the same boat. Orphans taken in by Celestia who took the role of their Aunt. They grew up together you know." Shining said as he looked around at the present mares. "Say, wheres Twilight and Pinkie?"

"We haven't heard of either of them, think they found the guy?" Rainbow asked, though no exactly thrilled to think that some pony had beaten her to something.

"Maybe, we should keep looking. Let's split up again meet here in an hour."

"Oooh, if we don't find them soon we'll miss all of the Gala." Rarity whinnied as she began her search once more.

"No kiddin', that guy sure knows how to cause a scene."

"Told ya he was bad news!" Rainbow Dash shouted before flying off into the castle, leaving behind only Luna, Discord, and Fluttershy. Turning to the duo beside her, the moon goddess spoke.

"Being silent is not a trait you posses Discord, what troubles you?"

"Nothing, just..." He began but stopped mid sentence. With a glance to the worried pegasus to his side he sighed. "Sombra just reminded me a lot of myself."

"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked.

"How should I put it...lonely? The moment when every pony moved away from him he bore the expression of a stallion in deep pain, the same one every pony bears before doing something foolish."

"You think he's going to be okay?"

"If we find him in time, yes." Discord said as began to float in mid air, ready to continue his search, his seriousness bringing a strange tension to those around him. Luna herself could feel the winds changing as well an with a deep breath, she began to walk away.

"We already looked that way." Fluttershy called out.

"We realize that. We must, however, speak to Our sister and calm the masses. No doubt the scene Sombra and Blue Blood caused will bring mayhem if left unattended." Luna said, not turning to face them while speaking. She indeed had a lot to speak about with Celestia, especially the fact that the documents in the folder had been neatly compiled despite how they must have been stored in many different parts of the Castle Archives. It would have taken hours upon hours to bring all the documents together, hours that must have been spent before Sombra and Blue Blood even met.


A loud banging of hooves was heard as ponies began to jump out of their wagons. Elite stood with his head high next to the other child Bloods, all at attention as well. Scanning over everything around him, Elite tried to make a note of all that he saw like he was taught to do.

Six stallions and two mares. A mare and two of the stallions keep their heads down so they must be the servants. He thought as he saw them being to make their way down the path. It was customary for the children and servants of the Blood household to stand on either sides of the path to the castle doors, each on their respective side. As the group walked by Elite, he kept his eyes on them, still looking for details to take notice of.

The one leading is a unicorn full of scars, missing an eyes so he has a severe blind spot he must make up for; likely the one challenging the Bloods to a duel. Two of the other stallions following him seem to be carrying weapons, no doubt for the one leading. Before he could get a good look at what kind of weapons they were carrying, Elite felt some pony grab him by the collar.

"Ya eyein' my stuff!?" A stallion shouted as he lifted Elite to eye level with magic. The colt did little struggling, only enough to keep himself from choking under his own weight whole still closely observing the stallion.

It was the one that had been leading, how had he managed to run back without me noticing? Elite thought to himself as he struggled to keep his composure. He had to keep a calm facade, after all, showing weakness or panic would bring a bad name to his family. Eyes cold and ruthless, bad breath, no sense of personal space. He must be a mercenary.

A bolt of energy flew by the small space between Elite and the mercenary's face, a very small area to aim for from afar, but for Grand Blood it was child's play. Backing off from the sudden feeling of a blue magic bolt skimming his nose, the Mercenary turned to glare at Grand for what he had done. Elite landed on hooves and quickly jumped back into place, keeping quiet all the while being calm as possible even though he felt his heart skip a beat at the close call of having almost lost most of his muzzle.

"You dare lay a hoof on Prince Elite Blood, my son?" Grand Blood asked out in a loud voice as he walked down the path to 'greet' the Mercenary.

"Yer son? Ya mean to tell me that this brat is a Blood? Ha! You must have tainted your Blood line pretty bad to have that piece of-"

"We welcome you to our home and you repay us by attacking one of us and insulting the head of the Bloods? You must not be very bright. Besides, it's only natural for children to want to gaze upon a circus when it passes through town."

"What did ya say?!"

"I said, are you going to dance for me monkey?" Grand Blood asked as now he and the Mercenary stood face to face, though the sheer size of Grand allowed him to look down upon his opponent.

"I suppose we'll have to skip the formal dinner before the duel." The Mercenary said with a growl.

"It is bad to fight with a filled stomach anyway." Grand Blood responded, though unamused by his opponents attempt to intimidate.


"So you had to keep a very calm expression as a kid huh?" Pinkie asked as she sat next to Sombra. The dark stallion kept his eyes glued on courtyard ahead.

"I had to. I could not bring any shame to my family." He said as he saw Cadence in the distance. She was struggling to get Blue Blood free from his imprisonment, the crystal pears were locked in place. Even from this distance Sombra could see Blue Blood shout out, no doubt in anger to have some pony get him free.

Sombra's eyes blew into small flames, just large enough to make the spears disappear, leaving many ponies around to look in shock. Just as fast as the flames had been ignited, they extinguished as Sombra went back to his stoic expression.

"That would explain a lot." Pinkie said as she went back to the conversation over his 'facade'.

"Being calm, even if it is just on the outside, was always something all Bloods had to do. If we showed any sign of weakness, our enemy would take advantage of it, but more than that, our strong magic would suffer if our emotions faltered...well, at least a real Blood's magic." Sombra finished as he lifted his hoof to his muzzle, gently pressing the white arrows on his face.

"You said it's like a birth mark right?"

"More like a strange occurrence. You see, unlike today, one thousand years ago ponies kept to their own tribe. I was one of the first foals born from a mixed of two races. That being said, my genes are a little out of it."

"What do you mean?"

"If a pegasus and an earth pony would to have a foal today, the child would turn out fine just because the parents likely have some genes of other tribes in their DNA already. If the foal was a pegasus, it would have no trouble being able to fly despite the genes for thick bones from the earth pony parent." Sombra began to explain. "But in my time, if a pegasus were to have had a foal with an earth pony, the foal would be born with both wings and thick bones. It would not be able to fly, and if it could, only after much training and even then not for long periods of time."

"So what you're saying is that since you were half earth pony."

"My magic as a Blood was weak. Actually, my magic as a unicorn in general was weak."

"You're dad probably didn't like that...huh?"

"My father pulled me aside every single night to train me...and he did not hold back."


"Again!" Grand Blood shouted as his son struggled to lift several boulders at the same time. Every few seconds, Elite would tire out and drop the large stones while simultaneously falling to the ground as well.

Panting, Elite struggled to his hooves as Grand Blood patiently waited for him. "Y-Yes father..." Elite said as his horn began to glow blue.

"Dig your hooves into the ground. Keep your center." Grand Blood commanded. His son obeyed, and though his form was text book perfect, his magic was simply not strong enough to lift the boulders.

Beads of sweat began to run down Elite's forehead as his blue aura began to surround the boulders around him. His teeth clenched and his eyes closed shut, the colt could feel himself sink into the ground from the strain of the magic, but he persisted on. Slowly the boulders began to move, butching from side to side as they were lifted from the ground. Just as it seemed like Elite had managed to perform his levitation, his magic ran out and a loud thud was heard form the stones falling back down.

"I..." Elite said between his pants. "I'm sorry father..." He said as he looked up at Grand Blood who had made his way to him, staring down at the poor colt.

"You need more practice. We will meet again tomorrow night as well until you get it right." He said before turning and walking away, leaving the colt to the cruel power of gravity bringing him down to the floor from his exhaustion. He would rest there for a while until he had enough strength to bring himself to his room where he would rest for what was left of the night.


"He would train me every single night. He would use every possible method known to a unicorn to get me up to par with the other Bloods." Sombra said as he looked back to Blue Blood who came to his hooves, denying Cadence's offer of help.

"Is that why you knew just how to teach Dinky magic?"

"Yes. I was in her shoes once, frustrated with not being able to perform well."

"But you became strong, I mean look at you now!" Pinkie shouted, trying to bring some cheer to the conversation.

"No Pinkamena..." Sombra said with a frown. "Dark magic made me strong...not practice. No matter how much effort I put into my training, my natural magic simply did not keep up."

" what happened?"

"I grew up...I fought as best as I could...and I won, sometimes though luck alone." Sombra said, looking up at the moon.


The moon shined bright as Elite sat in the middle of a balcony. His left shoulder was bandaged up from a recent battle. As he moved to adjust his posture, he grunted in pain, causing him to close one eye in reflex.

"Keep still Eli." A gentle voice said to him as she entered the balcony. He turned around and though he was happy to see her, remained stoic in expression.

"Hello mother, how does your night fair?" He asked as she sat next to him.

"Not different from any other night. How is your shoulder?"


"That's good, though I would prefer if you kept yourself from any other fights."

"You know I cannot do that mother. As a Blood I cannot deny a duel."

"I know but..." Emerald said as she looked over at her son. No longer just a colt, he had grown up to be a handsome stallion. His mane much longer but still combed back plus some of it had began to grow along his muzzle with his white arrow fur ending at his nose. "It's just that you've only just come of age to accept duels, don't you think you're over doing it?"

"I cannot refuse a duel. As son of Grand Blood, Elite Blood cannot waver in any shape or form."

"I...I know." Emerald said as she looked down at her hooves.She could feel tears beginning to swell at her eyes as she did her best to hold back a cry stuck at her throat. With a sniffled voice, she turned to look at her son who was once again preoccupied with the moon.

Despite being around, despite being his mother, Emerald had not been able to hold or hug Elite since his birth. It pained her to see how distant he seemed even though she knew it was the same facade all Bloods wore. Her vision of Elite blurred as the tears began to slip out of her eyes without her consent.

"M-mother?" Elite asked as he looked back at Emerald who had a sad smile on her face. Her tears in an unwavering stream as she did her best to keep still and quiet. "What's wrong mother?" He asked out again, worried for her. He had never once seen her cry, even after any insult thrown at her, any task barked at her, or any amount of tiredness. This was the first time he had seen his mother in a moment of weakness.

"Nothing, my sweet little prince. I'm just so happy to be able to see you." She said as she stood up, making her way out of the balcony as the chime of a clock rung. Though confused, Elite did not chase after her, he knew that doing so would probably bring problems to both of them. Instead, he returned his gaze at the moon. The bright celestial being in the night sky that never wavered, much like him, much like he had to do the next morning. It was his first Duel of the Blood.


"Your first Duel of the Blood? But I thought that you had plenty of experience in duel by then."

"Duels, and Duels of the Blood are different. When an outsider came and requested a duel, they would choose some pony of the Blood lineage to fight. Being the son of the current head, I was a popular pick. But a Duel of the Blood is a formal duel between two of the Blood family members. It was a fight to the death, a fight I was not ready for."

"W-Why not?"

"My opponent had a cutiemark."

"Huh? What does that have to do with anything?"

"Remember how I told I did not get my cutie mark until after I defeated Dycus?"


"Well that is because unicorns of the Blood family spent their whole lives fighting and perfecting the art of combat. We had no time to explore and find our special talents. Most Blood died without a cutiemark, focusing instead on our family trade, the art of killing."

"So since your opponent had a cutiemark..."

"His 'special talent' was combat. He was not only more powerful magic wise, he was also more prepared and skilled at it than I."


"Gah!" Elite screamed out as he slide on the ground, using his hoof to throw himself back up, he managed to come to his hooves in time to jump away from another blast of energy.

"Is that all? I expected more from the son of Grand Blood!"His opponent shouted as he sent out more and more energy bolts at Elite. Doing his best to avoid the assault, Elite tried to think of a counter attack, but the stallion he was facing left no openings for him to take advantage of, his eye for detail was of no use.

"I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised, you are only half a Blood. There's no way you could win against me." He said as he laughed. His small monologue allowing Elite to rest a bit, his calm demeanor ever present in how he carried himself.

"" Elite said to himself as he ran through all the possible actions he could take. "He has a perfect formation. He leaves no openings, no gaps between his attacks, nothing I can use to my advantage."

Standing up right, this is where his earth pony heritage came into play. His body could take a lot of pressure and stress. He could regain his breath and strength after only a small break. This was his only chance, if he could not out power or out smart, Elite had to out last his opponent, tire him out until he had no magic left to attack with.

Glancing to the side, Elite saw his father and other Bloods spectating the duel, and while Grand Blood still bore his stoic composure, every other pony was in surprise.

"How is Elite Blood still alive?" One of them asked. "No pony had ever lasted this long against Steel Blood."

"Elite Blood is not just any pony." Grand said. "He is my son."

"Enough!" Steel shouted as he charged his horn. "Let's end this now!"

"Not yet." Elite said as he began to run to the side, circling around arena. Steel responded with an volley of blasts of magic, all sent in different patterns towards him. Elite's watchful eye managed to keep him one step ahead of where the attacks would land and avoided them. This continued for quite a while, the his speed never fading even a little while he ran back and forth.

Steel Blood on the other hoof seemed to become more and more frustrated with each miss of his assault. "Why won't you just die?!" He shouted out. As if time has slowed down, Elite's eyes managed to spot a few key details about Steel...his formation was just a little off. He was growing tired.

As he jumped and rolled on the ground to avoid one of the bolts, Elite sent out a blast of his own at Steel who was not prepared for such a counter attack. Taking the full blast to his face, smoke surrounded the area around Steel. Every pony gasped as everything grew quiet except for Elite's pants of exhaustion. Even as he began to rest his body, Elite continued to scan the smoke for any sign of movement. He was good at identifying weak points, but not strong enough to defeat some pony with a single hit...something was wrong.

Sure enough, a blue spark was seen glow from the smoke followed by the sound of a blast going off, but despite his readiness to dodge, the bolt never come his way. Elite furrowed his eyebrows as he tried to make sense of the situation. Soon the smoke cleared and revealed a smirking Steel. Still confused, Elite stood tall as he waited for a reaction. It wasn't until he noticed a faint trace of blue sparks above Steel's head that he realized that the bolt had been sent upwards.

Quickly looking up, Elite opened his eyes wide as he saw a rain of blue shards begin to fall his way. Jumping away, he tried his best to avoid the assault of the stinging shards, but even through his best efforts, managed to get hit by quite a few of them. The shards cut and pierced his coat and flesh, burning in the wound. In a horrible scream, Elite used his magic to pull out all of the shards that had stabbed into him at once.

"Stings, doesn't it?" Steel asked out with a malicious grin. "How about another?" He asked before sending out another bolt to the sky. Elite clenched his teeth as he followed the bolt's bath and calculated any and all possible landing locations for the attack. In desperation, Elite began to run straight towards Steel, the only safe spot being the caster's position. Managing to avoid the attack, he was greeted by an array of magical attacks which Elite could barely avoid. His reaction time to Steel's attacks were slow by being so close, and far away he was an open target to the rain of shards.

Grand Blood stood still as he saw his son fight a losing fight. Though he remained expressionless, his eyes harbored hints of emotion. Slowly twitching at the moments Elite was about to get hit and relaxing when he managed to avoid damage. It was subtle enough for no pony to notice, but he knew that Elite was fighting a losing battle.

"Stay still already!" Steel Blood shouted as Elite jumped from spot to spot. Frustrated with his opponent, Steel took drastic measures. Sending out three blue bolts into the sky, Elite looked in horror as they all exploded and a rain of shards began to fall down on them. There was no safe spot any more.

Jumping back and shooting the shards falling down, Elite did his best to avoid as much as he could, but with each shard avoided, he was struck by two others. Another shout of pain escaped him as he struggled to stay up. Steel, however, stood tall despite having several shards impaled on his back.

"What's wrong? Can't take a little pain?" He taunted as his horn began to glow. "Let me help you with that." He said as the shards on Elite's back began to glow blue, being ripped out of him and causing an immense pain to befall Elite. Still...he continued to stand, slowly bringing his head up tall.

"Lets see who can take more pain...shall we?" Steel said with a sinister expression. Again he sent out a bolt into the sky. Again Elite was bombarded with shards and pain.

A heart aching scream echoed through out the Blood Palace as Elite shed tears of anguish, his teeth grinding against each other. Emerald, who was busy with chores heard the Elite's cry and felt her heart sink. Throwing things to the side, she rushed out to balcony where she and her son had spoken the night prior and saw him our in the courtyard inches deep in his own blood, and while his opponent did not seem to fair any better, he simply laughed maniacally at Elite's pain.

Trying to straighten his vision, Elite did his best to keep on his hooves as his swayed from side to side. His vision seemed to begin to go out from his pain and loss of blood, but even then he tried to stand all like he was raised to do. Out of the corner of his eye, Elite managed to see his mother who was weeping for him. He could not hear her, but her pained expression as she began to slump down against the edge of the balcony brought a stinging pain to his heart. He did not want to see her like this, but he would not do anything about it...he was inches from death.

"One more time, shall we?" Steel Blood asked out in a laughing voice.

"...No..." Elite managed to say, his voice barely audible from his pain.

"What was that?"

"I! I...I..." Elite said as he looked over at his father. His stoic composure not changed in the slightest. "I forfeit."


"I gave up the duel." Sombra said as he glanced down at his hooves, the pink mare next to her close to tears from the story he told. "I gave up and for the first time since my birth, disgraced my family."

"But you had no choice!" Pinkie shouted as she stood up, waving her arm in a frustrating gesture. "You would have died!"

"Most other Bloods would have accepted a death in a Duel of Blood as an honorable one." Sombra said, gazing up at the sniffling mare. Allowing for her to clam herself down, Sombra waited for Pinkie to sit back down next to him.

"What happened next was any pony's guess. No Blood had ever given up a Duel of Blood before." He said, trying to get back to his story. "I was taken in and given the medical attention I needed, allowing me to live through those wounds."


Pained grunts and moans were heard as Elite began to regain consciousness. Looking around, he tried to identify where he was, but the environment was foreign to him, what he could decipher was that where ever he was, he was in motion. The rustling of the furniture echoed as Elite began to recognize the noise of a train's engine.

"Are we awake now?" A voice called out to him.

"...Steel Blood..." Elite managed to say as he looked to the stallion standing next to him.

"I cannot believe you're alive." He said with a grim tone in his voice. "You stole my victory from me!"

"W-What?" Elite asked as he struggled to bring himself up.

"Yes! You were moments from death, and then you had to go and forfeit! You denied me my kill! You denied me my true victory, and now I can't kill you because apparently, a Duel of Blood cannot be rematched!" Steel shouted, his anger bleeding out through his loud voice.

"Steel...Where...Where am I?"

"Oh, this is the best part! I was put in charge of this very important task." Steel Blood said as the train engine began to die down, the rustling settling down until the motion had stopped. "I was put in charge of excommunicating you!" He shouted out in glee.

"What!?" Elite asked as he finally managed to bring his body to do as he told it to do. Placing a hoof to the wall next to him, he tried to stand up.

"Oh yes, you disgraced the family name, and so you have been stripped of your title as 'Prince'! Isn't that just wonderful?" Steel said as his horn began to glow, the door on the train slid open an a strong blizzard was seen outside. "Not only that, you are now placed in a location of my choice! So I brought you here."

Again Steel's horn glowed, but this time the blue aura wrapped around Elite's neck, dragging him to the door and hanging him out the edge of the train. "Oh, and one last thing. You have also been stripped of your name. You dishonored us so badly, you are no longer considered part of our family! You are Elite Blood no longer!" Steel said with a shrieking laugh as he let go of his ex family member. Elite fell several meters, landing on the cold snow and rolling downward for what seemed like an eternity.

Already in pain form his wounds, the cold sting did nothing to help him as he finally came to a stop. Beaten and tired, Elite did his best to come to his hooves, but he simply did not have the strength to do so. In the cold he laid there until he found the strength he needed to move. Dragging himself across the snow, he tried to climb his way back to the train, and even if it was no longer there, the tracks could lead him back home.

For hours Elite searched for the tracks, but it was to no avail. The blizzard prevented him from finding much of anything, and the white surrounds did not help orientate himself at all. Elite was out of energy and his wounds reopened. Panting, He let himself fall as he could feel himself drifting into sleep, possibly a sleep he would never wake up from.

"Is some pony there?" He heard a voice call out. He was barely conscious, and almost didn't even register the sound of the pony walking towards him. "Hello?" It called out again. This time, Elite was able to tell it was a mare's voice.

"What is this...blood?!" She shouted out as she found his trail of blood from his wounds. The last thing he could do before drifting away was feel hooves on him, shaking as some pony said something, but the noise was muffled. Darkness began to take his vision, and with it, a cold dream began.


"Gah!" A high pitched voice was heard, bringing the dark stallion back from the dark depths of his dream. Slowly opening his eyes, he felt warm under heavy sheets as muffled voiced argued in the room over.

"You brought him here?! What if he's a changeling!" A voice shouted out.

"He isn't! The wounds were real and if he was just pretending he would have killed me when I approached him."

"So you thought it was best to bring him to the empire? We've enough injured ponies as it is!"

"Every pony deserves to live! Resident of the Crystal Empire or not!"

"Fine!" The voice shouted as the sound of hooves was heard walking away. "Do what you want, but don't expect any help from us!" Finally the voices died down as the stallion tried to turn his head.

"Gah Gah!" The high pitched voice said again. Turning his head, the stallion saw a small foal by his pillow eagerly looking at him. He was unlike an foal he had ever seen, with a shiny sparkling coat and strangely shaped shines in his eyes.

"Oh, you're awake!" A voice said as it entered the room. "I'm so happy you made it!" The mare said, her coat sparkling in a light blue tone as well.

The dark stallion struggled to bring out his voice and where words were suppose to come, coughs appeared instead.

"Oh, don't strain yourself. I'm surprised you're alive with those wounds, so don't do anything that could reopen them, okay?" She said in a kind serene voice. "My name is Diane. This here is my son, Fetch!" The mare said as she reached for the foal who was happy to be picked up. "And you are?"

Coughing a few more times, the dark stallion finally managed to speak. "I...I no longer have a name..."

"Oh? That's weird. Well, I suppose your coat is already strange, so not having a name isn't the most shocking thing about you. Can I give you one?" She asked with a smile. The dark stallion was perplexed the amount of enthusiasm she produced.

"I-If you wish."

"Hmmm..." Diane said as she began to think. "Well, how about 'Sombra'? It means Shadow in an old language, and given your strange coat, I say it suits you!"

"Sombra?" He asked out. He was no longer Elite Blood, so any name was fine, he supposed this one was as good as any other. "O-Okay. I am's nice to meet you Diane." Sombra said, introducing himself with his new name.


"So that's why you don't like being called by anything else..." Pinkie said as she looked at her depressed friend. "But I thought you had never heard of a pony changing their name.

"It was the name given to me when I lost the one I was born with." Sombra said as he looked back up form his hooves. "I did not change it willingly. It was the name that gave me a new chance, a new beginning. A beginning that was later wasted when I became a Tyrant." He said with a saddened voice.

"But you're not Sombra the Tyrant anymore!" Pinkie shouted, trying to argue with him.

"Then tell me, who am I?"

"You're Sombra! The stallion I reformed! The stallion that saved Ponyville and my friends plenty of times over! You're a good guy!" She shouted out at him but hushed down just as quickly. "You're Sombra...a very special stallion to me." She said as she placed her head against his shoulder. Her tears began to trickle down her face again as her hooves ran to his coat in an embrace.

"Pinkamena...what are you doing?" Sombra asked without moving, not flinching or pushing himself away from her hug.

"I'm hugging's what you do to ponies you care about." She said through her sniffles.

Flinching, Sombra began to lift his arms in hesitation as he grabbed a hold of her shoulders, about to move her away, but the longer she hugged him, the warmer he felt. A loving embrace he had never felt before in his life. Instead of pushing her away, Sombra's hooves slide to her back as he too returned the hug.

"T-Thank you..." Sombra said in a hushed voice.

"For what?"

"Looking for me."

Again Pinkie sniffled as she ended the hug. "Any time." She said as she smiled sadly at him, her tears drying up finally. They remained still for a while, only gazing at each other's eyes. This time, neither one of them felt awkward as they looked at one another. Pinkie's sapphire eyes focused only on Sombra's ruby eyes. Slowly, the shine that had left his eyes began to return as a smile spread across his face. She returned the gesture as she came to her hooves.

"We should probably get going. I'm sure every pony else is super worried about us."

"Yes, I must have caused quite a panic." Sombra said as he glanced over at the courtyard. Practically every pony had left and was on their way out of the Gala. Again Sombra held out his hoof at Pinkie who didn't hesitate to take it this time. Pulling her close, Sombra jumped forward as his eyes erupted in flames to conjure out a pillar that they slid on towards the courtyard. Landing on the ground, the sound of Pinkie's laugh echoed slightly.

"That was fun!"

"I'm sure it was." Sombra said as he looked inside. The once filled ball room was not even a fourth filled anymore, most ponies had left to go home by this hour.

"You never got to dance huh?"

"Yeah, it's alright though."

"No it's not Sombra!" Pinkie said as she began to pull him inside, though the name she used was strange for her to call out.

"Sombra?" He questioned, making Pinkie stop in her tracts.

"Y-Yeah! Your name is important to you, so I guess I feel a little bad about calling you 'Sombrie' all this time..." She said as she began to fidget. "I remember how you said Carrot Top was a dishonor to Golden Harvest's name, so I guess I've been dishonoring your name by calling you Sombrie for so long."

A chuckle escaped Sombra as he saw the mare blush and fidget in front of him. "I see, but you really shouldn't force yourself. I've grown used to that nickname you gave me."


"Alright alright, lets go inside alright Pinkie?" He said as he began to walk by her. Her blush only deepened when he called her by her nickname.

"Wha?" Was all she managed to say.

"You wish to call me Sombra to please my believes right?" Sombra said as he stood at the entrance to the courtyard. "So I'll honor your believes by calling you by your preferred name, Pinkie."

Pinkie smiled as she followed him in, though it was less than welcoming to see the room so empty. The musicians were also packing as they prepared to leave themselves. Making their way to them, Pinkie recognized one of them to be the same one she had interrupted last year during her...moment of frustration.

"Excuse me." Sombra called out to the grey mare putting away her cello.

"Yes?" She replied without looking in his direction, too busy trying not to scratch her equipment.

"I was wondering if you would play one last song."

"Sorry, the band is only hired until 2 A.M., though I do suppose an encore is possible for the right pony." She said calmly, still not turning around.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if some pony of importance were to ask for an encore, then that would increase my reputation, so then I would be happy to perform one last song. So...who are you to request an encore?"

Sombra glanced over to the strangely silent mare beside him as she motioned him to reply truthfully.

"I am Sombra, The Reformed." He stated with pride in his voice. 'The Reformed', a title he decided to go by now to ensure every pony now knows of his new path, a path to light even if he walked a road of darkness.

"S-Sombra?" The cellist asked as she turned around quickly to make sure it was whom she thought. "As in, the stallion who fought Blue Blood tonight?"

"The one and only."

"Wow, you're going to be big news tomorrow." The mare said with a smile. "I suppose you are worthy of a free encore." She said with a sly smile, but a quick glance to her team made it go away. "Though it will only be me, looks like my teams are all ready packed."

"That's fine, I just need one song to dance to, no need to get every pony involved."

"Whatever you want 'Sombra, The Reformed'." She said with a smile, taking her instrument out again and placing her bow on the strings, awaiting his signal to start.

Sombra took Pinkie by the Hoof and pulled her to the dance floor where she began to freak out. "S-Sombra! I don't know how to dance to this kind of music!" She said, a furious blush upon her face.

"Don't worry, just follow my lead." He responded as he helped her onto her hind legs. Placing one of her hooves on his shoulder and the other held in his own, Sombra rested his free hoof on her lower back, causing her to tense up a little. "It's alright. Let's take it one step at a time, hmm?"


With a nod to the musician, Sombra gave her the signal to begin playing. The smooth sound of the cello echoed in the room, drawing in the attention of those had had since grown used to the quiet environment. Sombra gently pulled and pushed Pinkie along with him, guiding her through the steps of the slow dance.

Pinkie felt very nervous about dancing to something she was not used to, but quickly felt more calm as the serene flow of the music and the slow dancing kicked into her system. Slowly she began to grasp the basic concept of the dance and no longer depended solely on Sombra's lead. This made the dark stallion begin to take things a step further, continuing to put a little more flavor into each step he took.

By this time, it could no longer be considered 'slow dancing' as Sombra maneuvered around Pinkie in a dance he learned in the Crystal Empire. Spinning her around, he smiled and laughed along with her as they began to enjoy each other's movements. The other musicians began to take notice of the dancing couple, and even though they were 'off duty', felt that they needed more music to compliment their dance. With a shrug to each other, they all unpacked their instruments as each one took turns getting into the rhythm the Cellist has started. Each one adding a new flavor to the music.

Ponies began to gather around the room once more as they all seemed interested in the lively dance Sombra and Pinkie were performing, among them were the other elements and alicorns. Fluttershy, looked sad as she sat down on the floor.

"What seems to be the problem fair Fluttershy?" Luna asked as she came close to her.

"I think...I lost." She said sadly, looking at Sombra and Pinkie dance happily with one another. Luna looked over at them and then back at the yellow pegasus.

"Yes, We believe thou may have lost this battle. Though We do not believe thou hast lost the war just yet."

"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked, looking up at her.

"The war is not over until there is a ring upon Sombra's horn." Luna said with a wink before making her way to the musicians.

Sombra and pinkie spun around one another as they felt the climax of the song come close. It was exhilarating for both of them as they could feel what the other would do next, quickly reacting to act as one and move in sync. Their movements smooth and balanced. The music finally came to a stop as the Cellist did her finale, making Sombra and Pinkie come to a stop as he stood behind her, glancing at her as she looked back at her in a smile, their hooves holding one another's.

Panting, they stood still for a while as they tried to catch their breath. Slowly they let go and looked around to see they now had an audience that they had not noticed before due to their undivided attention to their dance. The crowd erupted into applause for their excellent performance and with a blush upon her face, Pinkie felt Sombra take her hoof in his before signaling her to bow with him.

"Master musicians, We bid thee play for another hour." Luna said to the group on stage.

"What?! No way! Our agreement was just until two in the morning."

"We shall double thy pay for one more hour."

"Deal." The cellist said, causing the harpist to protest.

"What?! You can't decided for every pony!"

"I lead this group, and you all depend on me for gigs. Besides, we get double the pay for just one extra hour? Sounds like a great deal to me." She said as she placed her bow on the cello once more.

"We already have out stuff out." One of them said, taking her side.

"Ugh, fine." He said as he got back on his harp.

Sombra and Pinkie were just making their way back to their friends when they were bombarded with questions.

"Where were ya'll!?"

"Is everything okay now?"

"Where did you learn to dance like that?"

"Can I dance with you next?" Fluttershy asked, causing every pony else to stop in their tracts and look at her. Sombra glanced at Pinkie who smiled and nodded.

"Sure, do you know how to dance?"

"Umm, not really..."

"It's alright, I will show you." Sombra said calmly.

"We would like a turn as well!" Luna shouted from the other side of the room.

"Me too darling!" Rarity joined in.

"How about you and I dance a little?" Cadence asked her husband with a sly smile.

"Please do not forget about me." Agatha said as she made her way to the group.

Sombra began to sweat as he looked around at all the mares. "Uh..." He said just to buy some time for a response. The Cellist saw the small commotion and could not help but shout out.

"We're only here an extra hour, you better hurry!" She said teasingly, something Sombra did not appreciate very much, causing the group to erupt into laughter.


Walking alone in the quiet library of Canterlot, Twilight looked around for the book she wanted. Unlike before, this book was for record keeping. Ever since she saw what dark magic could do, she felt like she had to learn more. She needed to learn more.

"Let's see here..." Twilight said to herself, getting a quill to begin a transfer order. "There we go..." She said as she finished writing down her request. "The Tome of Las Artes Oscuras" She said to herself. "If I get the tome Sombra used to become an embodiment of darkness, I will be able to learn so much faster! I have to transfer it here to the Canterlot library, he'll know if it get's to Golden Oaks, I'm sure of it..." Twilight said, her eyes glowing red and a smirk on her face.

39. The Corruption Begins

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"Jolly good show." A stall stallion said as he and his friends began to make their way out of their first class seats in the stadium. They all seem to crowd around him, responding all at once at his statement. Their voices mashed together and were undefinable, though that did not seem to bother him at all.

"Fancy Pants?" A voice called out to him. At once the blue maned stallion turned to see who it was and a large smile spread across his face. Coming his way were two ponies, one he did not recognize, but the other was hard to miss.

"Princess Luna!" He shouted out, making his way to them. "So good to see you, how have you been?"

"We have faced worse days. Enjoy the spectacle of the Wonderbolts?" Luna said as she and her friend came to a stop in front of him, Fancy Pant's friends close behind though silent.

"Very much so. I am so very glad you invited me. Oh pardon my rudeness, who might you be?" Fancy Pants asked the dark stallion next to Luna.

"Sombra, The Reformed." He answered, stoic in expression and regal in stature. His brown and red coat hung loosely on his grey fur as he bowed his head in a greeting.

"Oh so you're who every pony was talking about for the last week or so. How fairs your brother?"

"He is not exactly my brother. Blue Blood, if I has to give him a relationship towards me, would be more of a cousin."

"Ah." Fancy Pants said with a smile. "Well how is your Blood relative?"

"Better now. I managed to have enough restraint as to not break any bones. Though he is still with many bruises and aches, he should be back to normal within the month."

"That's wonderful news!"

"We do not mean to interrupt, but there was a reason for thy invitation. We wish to speak with thee...privately." Luna said as she stepped between the two stallions.

"Yes yes, of course." Fancy said as he turned to his friends behind him. "It shouldn't take too long. How about you all go on without me. I will meet up with you at the after party."

Most of the ponies seemed sad and almost hurt by how they were pushed aside, but each one complied with his request, leaving the three of them behind. With a bright smile, Fancy turned to them and began to speak.

"That should buy us about seven minutes worth of time before they take me away else where." He joked.

"Worry not, this should not take long." Luna said as she spread one of her wings, gently pushing Sombra forward for him to make his request. It was actually pretty simply what Sombra wished from the stallion, an invitation. And invitation to any party he put together every once in a while. Sombra needed to have a constant source of energy to remain alive and effective at what he does, and going to parties like the Gala proved to be an effective and peaceful way of doing so. Explaining his dark magic and how he needed it to keep alive, Sombra got a rather unexpected reaction from Fancy Pants.

"So you drain your magic from the fears of ponies?"


"And you need this magic to survive."

"Uh huh."

"So now that you're reformed you no longer want to scare others to get your magic, but rather utilize the loop hole you found about how you can drain any sort of fear, not just fear of you. Meaning that you can use the fear of high class ponies who are afraid about not fitting in and sustain yourself with that."


"Well that's amazing!" Fancy Pants said excitedly. "I never imagined such a thing was even possible!"

Sombra was amazed at just how pleasant the unicorn in front of him took the situation. His eyes were flame less, so it was no facade, Fancy Pants was genuinely smiling despite being told that who Sombra was and what he needs to survive.

"So does that mean you will help me?" Sombra asked, still a little confused about him.

"Yes of course. I wouldn't want to be the cause of your death, besides, my friends are always trying to make any excuse to have a little get together. How about next week I make you an introduction at the grand opening of the Grimlock Art Gallery? Oh you are going to love Grimlock, the pony it's named after. He is quite the painter." Fancy Pants said, quickly making pleasant conversation with him. Surely it was something that came with years of being surrounded by dozens of ponies and hosting parties.

"I'm sure I will find myself right at home." The dark stallion replied with a smile. Out of the corner of his eye, Sombra saw a pony begin to make his way to them, his eyes began to spark in purple flames. Though every pony took notice, none said anything as the pony finally reached them.

"Uh. Mr. Fancy Pants?"

"Yes my dear boy?"

"Do you think I could speak with you? There's uh, something you need to look at." He said, nervous from talking to the famous Fancy Pants.

"Yes yes." He said before quickly facing Luna and Sombra. "I do not mean to be rude, but it seems I am needed elsewhere."

"No problem at all, I believe we can get the details down later."

With a smile, Fancy Pants followed the boy towards where ever he was needed, leaving the princess and dark being to themselves.

"That went much more smooth than I had anticipated." Sombra said as he began to walk, Luna quickly followed suit.

"Fancy Pants is a fantastic pony. We met him once at a social gathering and played a game of chess! Though we lacked the board and pieces, We managed to convince other guests to be our living pieces, it was most fun."

"As odd as that sounds, I wouldn't put it past you to do such a thing."

"What art thou trying to suggest?"

"Nothing." Sombra said with a teasing smile. making his way out of the stadium where they had met Fancy Pants and into the busy streets of Canterlot. It was a refreshing sight to be hold after a week of being back in Ponyville.

"Where shall thou go now?"

"The only home I have right now." Sombra responded, turning to face the Lunar Princess, a certain shine in his crimson eyes.

"Shall We call forth transportation for thee?"

"No thanks, I can make it on my own."

"Surely thou jests, thou intends to walk to Ponyville?"

"Walk?" Sombra said with a smirk. "Of course not. I'm going to jump from the edge of Canterlot. Much faster." He said as he walked away, his smile never leaving his face form the expression Luna was giving him. One of complete awe and horror all in one. She stayed like this for a while before beginning to laugh to herself.

"Thou truly never seizes to amaze Us." She said as he watched him go, though as soon as the smile came, it left. Seeing him take one step after another until he was longer in sight, Luna frowned and looked down at her hooves. "Sister..." She said, recalling the chat he had with her.

Sombra needs to bring balance to our world, if he doesn't, we're all doomed for ruin. Celestia's words echoed in her head. The words she gave in response to why she continued to press Sombra against such incredibly dangerous odds. Though she wasn't sure what she meant by them, one thing was certain, Sombra was about to carry a large burden.

"Sombra has been through so much...felt so much pain...and now thou expects him to carry Equestria on his shoulders? We doubt any stallion, mortal or otherwise has the strength to fight for so long..." She said, her eyes saddened by the fear of Sombra collapsing under the weight of the world.


Finding himself on the roof of a small tower, Sombra looked down from the edge to the ground thousands of feet below him. He was indeed going to jump, and any pony would say he was crazy and he'd die. But he loved to prove ponies wrong. With a deep breath, Sombra took a few steps back, bracing himself for what he was going to do.

As far back as he could be, Sombra ran as fast as he could as his eyes combusted into flames, a ramp forming in front of him. As he reached the end of the ramp, he crouched down and made a pillar extend under him from the crystal, jumping as it reached it full size and propelling himself forward several yards than he would have without the additional help.

His eyes set on the spec far in the distance, Sombra smiled as he brought his limps to his sides allowing him to be more aerodynamic and dive down at great speeds. Enjoying the feel of the wind pushing against his face and his mane waving back, a smile was plastered on his face. His clothing did the same, zipping back and forth as the town seemed to get bigger and bigger.

His flames still burning strong despite the constant wind blowing them ever which way, they only burned brighter as Sombra once again called upon his magic to erect several crystal pillars from the ground to locations in front of him. Using them to kick off and continue his momentum, Sombra got closer and closer to Ponyville as he 'fell' diagonally.

Creating almost a sort of obstacle course for himself from crystal, Sombra took advantage of the great amount of dark magic he managed to harvest while at the Gala. Who knew that this 'loop hole' fear was so much more powerful than the one he used before?

Erecting a pillar then then having a pole stick out, Sombra used his hoof to swing himself forward while landing on a freshly summoned crystal which continue to extend in horizontal length as he ran along it. Suddenly starting to crack over the uneven weight it was taking on from the right angle pillar he was running on, Sombra jumped and made the crystal degrade before it crashed down.

Instead of thousands of feet, Sombra was now simply a few hundred feet from ground level but still not quite to Ponyville. Seeing that it was the final stretch, Sombra crystallized his hooves and brought up a spiraling pillar that he used to slide on. Making it perhaps a little more complicated than it should have been, Sombra twisted the crystal around in ways to keep the momentum of the slide going.

Ponies who were going about their business all looked up as they saw Sombra fly through the air as crystal was raised and broken down to help him keep moving. Practically on the ground, Sombra brought about an assortment of pillars that propelled him slightly to keep himself sliding on freshly summoned crystal slides only to jump and land in the middle of Ponville next to the Town Hall, the landing breaking away the crystals on his hooves.

An accomplished smile on his face, Sombra began to walk as if nothing out of the usual had happened. The ponies around him, having lived in the same town as the Elements of Harmony, knew that if no pony was screaming, everything was fine so they too brushed off Sombra's actions as normality.

"Good afternoon Sombra." A mare said as she walked by him.

"Good afternoon to you as well."

"Care for a sample?" Another called out from their stand.

"I would love one." Sombra said as he used his magic to grab a pear from the pony holding it out for him. Taking a quick bite out of it, he turned and walked backwards to continue talking to the merchant. "It is delicious, you will sell many today I'm sure."

"Thanks! I sure hope so." He said as he began to get many more customers who saw Sombra like the fruit.

"How was the Gala?" Another asked as they walked next to each other, momentarily sharing roads.

"It was eventful to say the least, got into a fight with a family member and danced with a wonderful mare."

"Sounds like a good time." The pony said as she waved bye, her path having her to take a turn.

All in all, Sombra was very much enjoying himself in his stroll down Ponyville. Now very used to the friendliness of the residents who inhabit the town, he could relax and let himself be who he was, Sombra, The Reformed.

"Sombra~" A voice called out to him making him crack a smile. Not turning around, he heard the sound of hooves hitting the ground as the pony ran to him. Soon he felt something land on his back as hooves wrapped around his neck.

"Pinkie, what are you doing exactly?" He asked with a sly smile, his gaze shifting to the mare holding on to him while hitching a ride.

"Just saying hello." She said with a giggle. "I heard you were going to Canterlot, but you were gone for so long!"

"It was only gone for two days Pinkie."

"But that was like...forever!"

"Seriously, what would you do if I wasn't around to cure your boredom?"

"I'd make my own fun." Pinkie said as she jumped down from him and began to walk with him, strangely close compared to before.

"Pulling pranks?"

"That's one way of making my own fun, yeah!"

"I hope that none of them are for me."

"Been there, tried that, but you always seem to just come out fine." Pinkie said as she recalled Rainbow Dash trying to prank Sombra various times after the Gala, but most of them backfired without much effort on his side, the others either misfired or got the wrong pony.

"I suppose I just become much more lucky since I moved to Ponyville."

"Even though you get attacked by a huge villain every other week?"

"From what I hear, that's a usual for Ponyville." Sombra said as he threw a glance at the mare next to him. "Six names have a tendency to pop up when that happens though."

Turning away in a nervous laugh, Pinkie begins to think of a way to reply, but the moment the two lock eyes their expressions softened. Pinkie had been the only one to hear of Sombra's past, and even with that knowledge, she didn't treat him any different than before. Though perhaps greeted him with hugs instead of a normal hello now that he no longer prohibited them.

"I have some work to do at Sugarcube Corner." Pinkie said, finally breaking the silence.

"I see, I wish you a good day at work."

"It always is!" She shouted out before running of in another direction, leaving Sombra with a half smile and a waving hoof in the air.

Sombra wasn't sure what it was, but he felt...different. He still kept his stoic composure during most of his conversations through force of habit, but he also seemed to smile more as well, mostly when Pinkie was around.

Continuing on his walk to Golden Oaks, Sombra was left alone with his thoughts as he searched for the reason why he felt so comfortable letting his guard down around others now. Could it be he broke out of it? Or simply because he didn't need it anymore. Was there even a need for such a resource? Why does he need to hide who he is? Hide his dark magic? Hide his emotions?

He certainly did not want to change his personality and he hasn't but there was definitely a different air about him since the Gala. Perhaps it was the 'new' name. Sombra, The Reformed. Every time he introduced himself with that name ponies would not look at him in a strange way compared to when he was just Sombra. 'The Reformed', a title that emphasized he was different and no longer a Tyrant. Something he liked others to know, and now that Sombra formed a deal with Fancy Pants, he could live here in this peaceful Equestria without worry that he could cause a cause of grief.

Finally at the front door of Golden Oaks, Sombra walked in with out hesitation, though he sure wasn't expecting what was waiting for him inside.

"Mr. Sombra!" Dinky shouted as she ran up to hug his hoof, the only thing she could grab on to.

"Dinky Do? What are you doing here?" He asked as he kneeled down to greet her.

"I heard you were coming today, and I wanted to see you! Every pony wants you to come back to our fantasy game, we really liked playing when you were in charge!" She said excitedly, causing Sombra to chuckle slightly. Using his hoof to mess with Dinky's mane, he spoke.

"I suppose I can come by later to play with you all, but you know that I won't take it easy on you fillies and colts. If we're going to train for war, we are training like true soldiers."

"Wouldn't have it any other way!" She said as she began to run out of the library. After waving goodbye, she ran to let the others know of the 'good' news.

"She really likes you." Spike said as he walked by with a stack of books on his hands.

"No idea why." He replied, back to his stoic expression. Knowing that being expressionless was normal for him, the dragon continued to talk like normal.

"You're just a natural born father."

"I guess...I'm just the father that I wished I had." He said as he remembered his own. Grand Blood was anything but kind and caring to him. Not bad per se, but not all that good either. "Need some help with that?" He asked, quickly switching the conversation when he noticed just how many books Spike had to re-shelf.

Sighing in relief, Spike allowed Sombra to take quite a large load off of him. "Thanks! Twilight has been so focused on her studies to even come out of her room, can you believe it?" He said as he went back to work.

"Focused on her studies? You mean my teachings of dark magic?" Sombra asked as he help put some books away.

"Yeah, completely immersed in her own little world."

Dropping some of the books he was carrying, Sombra turned to look at the drake. Though his face was still stoic, there was a hint of urgency and seriousness in his eyes. "You mean to tell me she hasn't left the library in two days?"

"Uh...yeah...not a hoof outside since you left." Spike said, a little panicked by Sombra's actions and expression, or lack there of.

Without another word, Sombra began to make his way to Twilight's room. His walking was a little rushed as he felt himself compelled to run but instead, another thought come to mind. His eyes bursting into flames, Sombra began to shift his body into smoke and moving forward without making any sounds. Finding Twilight's room, he materialized himself and remained silent as he opened his senses to the enclosed room.

The sound of swirling magic was barely audible but there was definitely something being performed on the other side. Using his magic to open the door forcefully, what he found was exactly what he dreaded to imagine: Twilight surrounded by dark magic and her eyes set ablaze in purple flames.

"Twilight Sparkle!" He shouted out, waking the mare from the trance like state she was in. Turning and seeing him stand at her door way, she opened her eyes wide in horror as she let the dark magic dissipate and her eyes went out.

"S-Sombra! You weren't supposed to get here until tomorrow..." She said, shocked that he was here.

A quick glance around and his eyes told him everything he needed to know. He had not been early, he had come back just as he said he would, that means her sense of time was off, no doubt from having all the windows covered. The bags under her eyes and her thin body mad it apparent that she had indeed not left her quarters while she...disobeyed his orders of never practicing dark magic on her own.

"Sparkle..." He said in a grim voice. "Putting aside that you blatantly disobeyed me, you do realized anchors have no effect on the mage if you do not see them?!" He shouted.

"Wha-huh?" Was all that Twilight managed to say. She was so in shock that she couldn't even process what was being told to her.

"Did you even stop to think that you could be falling into a darkness of your own making?!" Sombra asked out as he took a step forward. As he did, his eyes erupted into flames, but not of his own command. The mare in front of him was terrified.

"No- it's not- You see..." Twilight said, though now in full comprehension of her situation, was not able to come up with a coherent sentence to reply with. The sinking feeling on her chest not helping her calm down from her surroundings.

"How long?" Sombra asked out dryly.


"How long have you been using dark magic on your own?"

"I...Since you got sick in bed." She said as she let her head hang in shame.

"That long? Knowing you, you probably went over board with training."

"I didn't!"

"Look at you now Sparkle! It's clear you're malnourished, you haven't slept in two days I'm sure, and those dull eyes make it apperant you haven't even seen the sun light!"

Sombra's scolding pierced at her heart. Never before had one of her teachers ever been so angry with her before. Twilight had always been the perfect student, and now, it seemed like she was the worst. In her distracted state, Twilight did not realize that Sombra had walked up to her until she had seen his hooves on her vision of the floor. Looking up at him, Sombra grabbed a hold of her shin as they were locked into a stare.

"Forgive me Twilight Sparkle, but I am forced to end the course here. There will be no more classes from here on out, and more over, I am taking your dark magic." He said as his eyes let out flames. Twilight's widened in despair, her own eyes set set ablaze as well.

"No, you can't do that!" She shouted as she tried to move away, but she couldn't. As if perpetrated by fear, she was locked in place, and locked in a stare with Sombra. The purple flames began to pull to one another, slowly merging and once one bright light, Sombra began to drain the dark magic Twilight had consumed on her own. Twilight felt herself grow weak from having her magic begin to be taken from her, but there was nothing she could do about it.

Finally done absorbing the dark magic that she had harbored, Twilight fell to the ground as Sombra staggered to remain standing himself. One eye closed as if in plain, Sombra looked down at his former student.

"You much dark magic in you...What exactly did you do?" He asked as he began to regain his composure. Using his magic to pick her up and bring her over to her bed where he tucked her in, Sombra stared blankly at her unconscious body. "Unfortunately, just because I took your magic does not mean you cannot drain more. The stigma of darkness, once you are scarred by it you have to live with it your entire life..." He said to himself.

"This is not good...not good at all!" He said as exit the room in frustration. Shutting the behind him, Sombra began to run though all of his options. "I could just take any dark magic she drains...not that won't work for long. I could try to teach her the horrors of being archorless, no that's too risky. I could constantly be at her side to keep her from doing anything. Damn it, that will only cause her to try to escape and do it on her own."

Sombra was out of viable options, and with that, also about to run out of time. Every minute he remained without a plan was another minute where the dark magic would continue to corrupt Twilight.

"Spike!" He shouted as he began to make his way down stairs again. "I need you to write to Celestia. Tell her that I need to speak to her, and that I will be there shortly."

"What?! But you just got back!"

"Just do it!"

Sombra was feeling a large amount of different emotions, many of them negative, but most of all, he was feeling angry with himself. He was finally able to enjoy a peaceful life, something he never once managed to enjoy in all his years. And was all about to go to Tartarous because of something he did. Why can he never be anything but destruction to the world around him?

His teeth clenched, he kept his head down as he made his way out of the library.

"No...I am going to fix this. I won't let things get any worse!" He said as he began to gallop into town.

40. Two Dark Mages

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Her eyes flinching before slowly opening, Twilight began to waken from her sleep. She let out a grunt as her weak body struggled to move. She had a headache, one that seemed almost unnatural. Tossing her blanket aside, Twilight did her best to stand from her bed but as her hooves touched the ground, she felt her legs shake.

"Wh-Why do I feel so weak?..." She asked herself with a weary voice. Just then her eyes widened as the memory of Sombra taking her dark magic rushed back to her. "Oh...right." She said, sitting down on her bed.

"I...I really blew it this time huh?" Twilight said, her voice her only comfort in the empty room she was in.

"I suppose...I deserve it. Sombra was right, I was being really irresponsible, I could really had lost my sanity if I continued like that." She said, but just as she finished her sentence, a wave of pain came to her, her head pounding with jolts of what felt like a hammer slamming on her skull.

Shacking her head, Twilight slowly opened her eyes. Her irises faded in and out of her normal purple shade into red as she struggled to remain conscious from the powerful pain she was feeling.

"What is going on?" She asked out as she jumped to her hooves, still trying to shake the pain away. As if put in a trace, she suddenly stood tall and still. Opening her eyes wide, her red irises were in clear view before fading all together. Shaking her head one last time to knock away the daze, he began to speak to herself again as if she had never had her small episode.

"S-Sombra was right. I disobeyed him and got into very dangerous ground." She said as she turned around, glancing at her reflection on a nearby mirror.

"But it isn't like I can't handle myself." Twilight saw her reflection say. Blinking a few times, the mare took a step towards her reflection in curious caution.

" reflection just talk to me?" She asked out, but despite what she thought she saw, her mirror was just mimicking her, nothing out of the ordinary.

"Well..."She said as she took a step back. "I am an alicorn princess."

"That's right! And Sombra is just a normal unicorn. How much more powerful can he be?" The Twilight in the mirror asked herself. Again the real Twilight felt like her reflection had spoken out of sync of her. Though she wished to question whether she was hallucinating or not, the topic her reflection brought up seemed a little more interesting for her.

"There is nothing normal about Sombra, I mean have you seen what he can do? He was the only pony to be able to drive back an Ursa Major not to mention take on, and win, against the Changelings Royals!" Twilight said, turning around and looking at the ground. "While I on the other hoof am a just a newbie alicorn who just got her wings."

"But I'm also Celestia's star pupil! She carefully crafted me into my role of princess. I am special and powerful!" The reflected shouted. Twilight found herself in the boasting pose her image was in, and it was there that she realized that the reflection in the mirror really wasn't moving on its own, but rather that she was indeed speaking to herself.

"Yeah, but Sombra is...was my teacher and I broke the rule he set down for me." Twilight said, looking down again, sad at her self. Her eyes shifting to red, she spoke again.

"A rule that only slowed me down. If he spent all day with me while I practiced nothing would have gone wrong." She said, regaining some confidence, but just as she finished, her eyes returned to purple.

"There's no way he could have even done that! We all need to sleep, not to mention do other things than just study." Her eyes turning red again.

"Is there really anything more important then extending one's knowledge?" Again her eyes changed.

"But every pony needs to have moderation with study. Long periods of study will actually do more harm than good."

"But I did it just fine both as a filly and now."

"And both times I got screamed at by my teachers. I am sure they just want the best thing for me."

"Though, I am an adult mare now. I should be able to push myself as far as I think I can manage."

"But my friends would be so worried if I did something so reckless..."

"Then again, they all know that I'm an alicorn. Princess Celestia raised both the sun and moon on her own for a thousand years. I now have the potential to do the same."

"But that's just it. It's only potential. We all have the potential to do great things, but not every pony does it."

"But what does Sombra always say? 'I'm not just any pony, I assure you'."

"But Sombra isn't just any pony. He is the pony. The pony who single hoofenly won a war, survived trapped inside ice for a thousand years, and continues to fight on any pony who challenges him to this day."

"But I have lived through my own set of ordeals as well. I have defeated Nightmare Moon, Discord, Chrysalis, and Sombra himself."

"But I never could have done any of that without my friends, besides, Chrysalis and Sombra were defeated by Candece's love and the Crystal heart's power respectively. I could never have done that on my own."

"What am I saying? I'm not giving myself enough credit! I have my own set of accomplishments, and even if I didn't have friends to back me up, I would have still stepped up to the plate to keep Equestria safe!"

"No, this is wrong. I shouldn't be thinking like this. It's unlike me."

"Because I have been used to being held back by others. I can do things on my own given the chance."

"So what? I just go solo? Sombra would never allow me to continue my studies on my own, he'll just take away my magic again."

"Unless..." Twilight said as she turned to her window. "I get on his level of magic. I mean, he did get to where he is by using a tome, the same tome I had transferred to Canterlot."

"What am I thinking? Have I gone...mad?" Twilight said with a sadden tone of realization. She was losing her sanity...

"Of course not! I know the signs of insanity."

"I'm literally having conversation with myself! I am going insane!"

"But it isn't like it's the first time I've spoken to myself."

"Yeah! Last time I did it I made all of Ponyville go crazy with my Want it-Need it spell."

"I need to get a hold of myself. I am perfectly sane. I mean, look at me. I am Princess Twilight Sparkle! I can handle anything."

"Anything...right. Even...the power of the tome of Las Artes Oscuras." Twilight said, her red irises not fading this time as she began to smile. Walking up to her window she placed a hoof on the window frame before taking off. Her destination: Canterlot Library.


Pinkie tried to keep a smile on her face as she greeted a costumer. Going through the usual routine to make a sell, she placed some cupcakes in a small box and began to prep it further for the sell.

"Is that going to be all?" She asked with a smile.

"Yeah. Say, are you okay Pinkie?" The mare asked as she was given her pastries. "You don't seem like yourself."

"Oh I'm fine." Pinkie lied. In truth, she was worried. Just a few minutes ago she saw Sombra through the window of Sugarcube Corner. He was running and the expression he had wasn't exactly one of happiness. She had been worried that maybe something bad had happened.

"Well if you say so. Have a nice day." The mare said as she left the store. It was the slowest part of the day for business and so with her gone, the store was now empty. With a sigh, Pinkie slumped down on the counter.

Her cheeks pressing against the wood of the counter, she blew some air upward at her hanging mane, making it move to the side. She was bored, more over she was worried. She was borried, the worst combination of feelings she could possibly feel at once. A glance to the clock on the wall told her that it hadn't even been a minute since the customer left and that only made things more depressing.

In an exaggerated and very loud sigh, Pinkie stood up. She hated when no one came to buy anything because then she was just stuck here doing nothing. Looking around for something, anything to do, she noticed a trash can. Walking up to it, she saw that it was only half full, but her eyes began to glow with glee.

"Mr. and Mrs. Cake! I'm gonna take the trash out!" She shouted as she pulled the half full bag from the container and rushed outside.

Taking a deep breath of the fresh outdoors, she smiled at her temporary freedom. Taking her time in walking around Sugarcube Corner, she waved at any and all ponies that passed by with a large smile. Finally getting to large trash bin behind her work place, she threw it over head, having it land perfectly in it.

"Well, that takes care of that." She said, turning around in a boastful pose, feeling proud of how productive she was. Her smile quickly faded as she saw something in the sky. A few meters in the air, Twilight was furiously flapping her wings as she flew at high speed towards Canterlot.

"What has Twilight so worked up?" Pinkie asked herself as she saw her friend disappear into the distance. "Could it be the same thing that Sombra was in such a hurry about too? Is there maybe some sort of huge problem!?" She asked out, worry once again taking hold of her.


Wind pressing against him, Sombra found his crystal pillar coming to the end of how far it could extend, sending him flying forward from it's momentum. Reaching the peak the thrust the pillar gave him, he extended yet another pillar from the mountain wall and continued his trip upward. He couldn't get to Canterlot fast enough and even skipping over the train ride and simply jumping his way to the city, he still felt like he was still wasting too much time.

Finally the end of his trip was in sight. The city of unicorns now in plain view from where he was, he used more force in his magic, sending him rocketing over the walls of Canterlot and landing quite hard on the concrete ground. His landing was far from subtle as the stone he was on shattered and created a crater for him. Ponies all looked his way as he began to gallop down the busy streets of the city.

Any obstacle in his was was either leaped over or he ran though in his smoke form to keep him from losing pace. Canterlot Castle was soon in throwing distance for him, and that was just what he wanted to see. Jumping into the air, Sombra extended a pillar that shot him forward in an arc towards the Castle. Many ponies were in awe as they saw a flying unicorn pass over them, his shadow like a flash of black on the ground.

Landing on the courtyard, he quickly made his way around the castle to where Celestia was, though when he set hoof in the building a strange sense of familiarity came over him. Brushing it off due to the urgency before him, he continued on his way. Passing many hallways and corridors, he quickly made it to the thrown room where a busy Princess was silently sitting and reading.

"Celestia!" He shouted out as he opened the doors with force, perhaps too much so as the walls around them chipped and cracked. It certainly shocked the guards around the princess enough for them to take arms against him.

"Stand down every pony." Celestia said as she stood up, slowly making her way to the stallion as the guards hesitated to follow her command. "You should be more careful, one would see your actions as aggression."

"I care not what others think, I need to speak to you now." Sombra said as he and Celestia were now face to face.

"Yes...I just now received your letter from Spike. Something about Twilight?"

"Twilight Sparkle has-" Sombra began, but quickly realized they had an audience in the room and stopped mid sentence. "Began to be corrupted by dark magic." He whispered, not wanting to stir up any panic that could only make things worse.

"Excuse me?" Celestia asked out, a little confused by what Sombra was saying.

"Twilight Sparkle. Dark magic. Corruption. Problem." Sombra said, a little louder.

"Oh!" Celestia said in surprise. "Right then. Umm, could every pony give us a second?" She asked to the others in the room, gesturing for them to leave the throne room. They all looked at one another before complying, all glancing at Sombra as they walked passed him.

After finally every pony was gone, the dark stallion breathed calmly again. "Thank you." He said.

"Now, what seems to be the problem?"

"Sparkle seems to have grown a little too friendly with the dark arts. I fear for the same corruption that befell me to befall her."

"But you took the necessary steps to stop it right?"

"I did, but Sparkle disobeyed me. It has been more than two days without her seeing her friends, her anchors. Further more, she has been practicing dark magic on her own for even longer."

"So you think she's already corrupted?"

"If not already, then will be soon."

"You're her teacher. Just put a stop to it." Celestia said with a smile, clearly not grasping just how grim things are.

"Celestia. Do you not see the amount of danger every pony is right now? Think for a second will you?" Sombra said, his words almost offensive. "Twilight Sparkle is a 'natural', she will grasp dark magic in days what would take others years. She has the tendency to take things too far, and if she loses her morality, she will begin to experiment with her magic in ways I can only see in nightmares."

"So what are you getting at?" Celestia asked, not exactly enjoying the tone he was taking with her.

"I need you to talk some sense into her!" He said, quite frustrated at her ignorance.

"Sombra, she is no longer my student, she is yours."

"But she trusts you more! You have to do it!" He shouted. This time the princess truly did get upset at his voice.

"And if I don't? What will you do?" Celestia asked out, calling out on his aggression.

"That is just it Celestia. If Sparkle continues down this path, I won't be able to do anything." Sombra faced off against the sun goddess who's expression began to soften into a frown.

"W-What do you mean?"

"Let's face it Celestia, that mare...she whole reason you even took her under your wing was because she was so powerful. I read the articles on her 'entrance exam'. Hatching and aging a dragon? As a filly? She managed an aging spell on something that wasn't even a pony!"

Celestia remained silent, not knowing how to respond to his claims, more over, most of it was true.

"I am very perceptive, I know there have been puppet strings attached to your hooves since I arrived. Now I don't care the why or how's but right now, I need you to help me, help her."

"Sombra..." She began. "This is all my fault."

The dark stallion narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean?" He asked, his voice holding back emotion. He wanted to hear her out before jumping to conclusions, but he was already at the end of his rope.

"I brought upon a thousand years of peace." Celestia said as she turned around, taking a few steps away. "After Discord's rule, I wanted to bring harmony and stability to Equestria."

"And you did, did you not?"

"Yes." She said, lowing her head "But at a cost."

"You mean your sister?"

"No Sombra. You see...I--" For the first time in a long time, Celestia was left without the accurate words that could portray what she was meaning to say. "The world cannot be at peace, at least not for long. By bringing a thousand years of peace, I accidently tipped the balance."

"I'm not exactly following princess."

"Luna's banishment and Discord's petrification. Both of these things were meant to be permanent. And though I am thankful that my sister was brought back to me, Discord's return was less than welcomed. Still, for many months I wondered why these events even occurred."

"And what were your thoughts?" Sombra asked, now intrigued by the topic the princess brought up.

"I turned to ancient writings, many of which told of a balance in the world. I did not quite understand it myself, but after your umm, first return, I was sure that these occurrences were no coincidences. I brought Discord back and had him reformed by Fluttershy in hopes of bringing back some balance to the world."

"I'm not exactly undertanding. How can Discord, the Lord of Chaos, bring balance?"

"I brought to Equestria one thousand years of peace, something so grand did not come without precautions."

"You've already said that, but you haven't been clear on what it means."

"It means, that we have had a period of peace, now comes a period of chaos. The world wants to bring back balance and has done many things to tip the scale of back away from harmony."

"Are you saying that Equestria is facing one thousand years of chaos?"

"I...I fear so. Your second coming was proof that Discord, though now present in the world, was not enough to balance out my doings."

"This is madness, how can 'the world' do anyth-" Sombra said, but came to a very abrupt stop as something caught his attention.

"Is everything alright?" Celestia asked, worried for how he was acting.

"Celestia..." He said as he turned around, still looking around as if able to see through the walls and into the castle around them. "Get your sister." Sombra said before he began to run at full speed again.

Bursting open the door to the throne room, he startled the numerous ponies who has all gathered around the door to try to eavesdrop. Paying no mind to them, he ran passed them as he followed the strange sixth sense of his. It was the same sense of familiarity he felt when he first entered the castle grounds, but now it was much stronger. It was almost like when he felt the power of his dark magic trapped in the vase Celestia had, but this time it felt more primal. More...fresh.

Sombra found himself running down what seemed to be just random hallways, just following the faint trail that had been left behind. The question of what was leading him kept poking at him to his own distant memories, as if it was something he really shouldn't have forgotten.

Finally his road came to an end as he stopped in front of a double door with a sign that read 'Royal Library' over them. As if forced to recall a moment from his past, it seemed to be strangely familiar to the sign over the entrance to the Crystal Empire Library the day he and Diane had sneaked in to find a way to beat the changelings.

Sombra's heart began to beat faster as he dread to think that perhaps the same was happening now. Taking a soft breath before calming stepping forward and opening the doors to the library, his doubts were thrown away as he saw the room engulfed in darkness in a swirling vortex. Green and red eyes leered from the dark as purple flames sparked wildly around the vortex. He knew that there was nothing he could do at this point and simply waited.

He waited until the darkness was sucked into a pony, one he already expected her to be. Gently being placed on the floor of the library, Twilight stood, her eyes shut. The tome that the darkness has come from also began to slowly drop down, coming to a soft clunk on the ground near the mare's hooves.

"Twilight Sparkle." Sombra said, not moving, not blinking, not reacting. "Do you realize what you have done?"

Twilight slowly opened her eyes, her sclera bright green and her irises red to match Sombra's; she smiled as she responded. "I've gotten on your level now, teacher."

41. Consumed

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Looking over her body, Twilight was in glee at how powerful she felt. There wasn't exactly any physical changes to herself, she was just in awe at how every inch of her being felt so much strength cursing through her.

"I can feel my new dark powers just flow within me!" She said in a twisted smile, looking deeply into her hooves. The magic residue from her 'conversion' was beginning to softly fall to the ground where small dark crystal began to form, spike up in a strange unnatural way. Sombra noticed but only with a fast glance, quickly shifting his attention back at the mare in front of him.

"Dark powers you cannot even comprehend right now." He said as he began to think of things he could do right now, but truth be told, out of all the scenarios he had spent nights going over and preparing for, this one was not one of them. Sombra, for the first time in a very long time, was lost for both words and actions.

"But I can, with your help of course." Twilight said, now having her fill of self adornment and staring back at Sombra who was towering over her, his gaze fixated on her.

"And what makes you think I would do that?"

"Because I know you Sombra. You wouldn't let some pony practice magic unsupervised." Twilight said with a smirk. Slowly, Sombra was beginning to see what the corruption had done to Twilight.

Darkness does not take away your core being, once one found something to focus on, they would see that and only that as their objective, in Sombra's case, it was crystals. It seems that the thing Twilight has come to obsess over is knowing everything, or rather, proving that she is right. This experimental mind set will surely bring bad news for every pony.

"So you think that I will do as you ask simply because 'I have no choice'?"

"You do have a choice, I suppose, but I know you. I know what you would do, what you will do."

"Have you perhaps considered that I might simply take away your magic again?"

"I have." Twilight said, beginning to walk around the stoic stallion. "But you can't, at least not yet. You've never been against someone of your...rank, in the dark arts."

"You might be the same 'rank', but I've a thousand years of experience compared to you."

"Experience in what? Being trapped in ice?" Twilight asked, a giggle escaping her, though her laugh was soon gone when she noticed herself surrounded by black crystal spikes, all aimed at her from the ground around her. The tip of one of the spikes shinned from one of the library's lights. "You would kill me then?"

"I would defeat you, and figure out what to do with you later." Sombra said as he turned to face her. Twilight was not smiling anymore, mostly because she had read into Sombra wrong and how he would react. She hated to be wrong.

"Sombra..." She said quickly, her head down as a shadow lingered over her eyes, covering them from view.

"What is it?"

"How strong am I compared to you?"

"What do you mean?"

"If you tried to kill me here and now, would you be able to do it?"

"I told you I am not trying-"

"I want to know!" Twilight shouted. "I want to know that even after becoming like you...that I am still inferior to you."

"Me being stronger than you has nothing to do with inferiority, Sparkle." Sombra tried to reason with her, but he was starting to understand that words were not getting through to her. She was too far gone to try to reason with, or even have try to have a conversation with her.

"Fight me..." Twilight said with a meek voice. Though Sombra managed to hear her, he asked anyway.

"What was that?" He said, hoping that perhaps he had indeed misheard her.

"I want to have a mock battle with you Sombra!" Twilight shouted, raising her head again, her magic dissipating the crystals around her.

"And why, pray tell, do you want to have a mock battle?"

"I want to know how strong I am compared to Sombra, the Tyrant of the Crystal Empire." She said, choosing her words specifically to try to aggravate him...and it seemed to work, if only for a second.

"My apologies, but the Tyrant you're looking for is long gone." Sombra said, brushing off her comment.

"Not all gone. Every pony at the Gala saw you fight."

"And I fought as a Blood, yet another version of me who is long gone."

"But can come up whenever you want."

"Not by choice exactly."

Their talk seemed to go nowhere, only back and forth banter that only seemed to frustrate Twilight more and more. This, of course, was Sombra wanted he wanted to stall, he needed to keep the mare busy until Celestia and Luna arrived, surely they would know how to calm her down, and if push came to shove, retain her.

"Enough! Fight me now!" Twilight shouted, stomping her front legs in anger.

"And if I refuse?"

"Then you'll just become my test dummy." She replied, a strange smile upon her face as her horn began to glow.

Sombra barely had time to react as he was pushed back by an intense blast of energy. The library doors from where he had entered were torn off their hinges as his hooves slid on the ground from the force the blast carried. The dark stallion took a breath as the crystal he had had grown on him as a protective skin began to break off him. His eyes narrowed at the chuckling mare who began to walk towards him.

"Wow, I expected you to have been blown away, but you are still standing and with barely a scratch on you." Twilight said, eyeing him up and down. "I just can't be right when it comes to you huh?"

"My father made sure no one could read my actions." Sombra said as he brushed off some debris from his shoulder. "You, however, are like an open book." He said as his leering eyes made contact with her's. Apart from his death glare, Sombra still held his stoic expression which he was now grateful he still had. Dealing with her will be a feat all on it's own since they share the same analytically mind.

"How about I start using my dark magic then?" Twilight asked as her red irises began to bleed out a sickly green glow onto her sclera with flames sparking out of the sides of her eyes. Sombra kept quiet, but he too let out his dark flames ignite.

"You truly intend on fighting, don't you?"

"Of course. I want to know the extent of dark magic." She replied, her unnerving smile still lingering on her expression.


"Luna!" Celestia shouted as she saw her sister running across a hallway. Getting her attention the Lunar Goddess backtracked to see who was calling her.

"Sister, We heard an explosion of some sort, art thou alright?" She said as she ran to her sibling then coming to a stop to catch her breath. Celestia was pretty winded herself from searching so she too took a moment to rest.

"Yes, at least I hope so. Sombra came by to speak about Twilight. He think that she might have gone...astray." She said, looking away as that last word left her mouth.

"That explosion then, was it from battle?"

"I certainly hope not..." Celestia said before turning around to the sound of another crash of some sort. Struck with worry, both sisters began to make their way towards where the noise was coming from, hoping for the best, but as they began to walk, Luna began to feel a little uneasy about the situation.

"Sister?" She called out. "There is something that We wish to speak with thee about."

"I'm sorry Luna, but whatever it is, I think it can wait until after we find Sombra" Celestia replied, not turning to look at her sister as they walked. Something that Luna did not take kindly to so she quickly jumped in front her to stop her in her tracks.

"This has to do with Sombra. Just what are thy intentions with him?" Luna asked out, demanding an answer before they moved on.

"What? Now?" The Sun Goddess asked, but her sister seemed determined to get an answer. Slowly she let out a sigh before thinking of how to answer her. "I want Sombra to bring balance to Equestria by having a presence here. I thought that maybe if we had darkness and chaos around, we could skip over the thousand years of disharmony that we have ahead of us."

"Thou hath already told Us that. What We wish to know is just how Sombra is supposed to 'bring balance.' If presence alone could bring balance, Discord would have been enough."

"What are you trying to say Luna?" Celestia asked, now a little worried about how serious her sister has gotten."

"We mean to say...what if thou is wrong about how thine plan will work? What if presence alone will not help?" Luna said, her words weighing down on Celestia, suffocating her from the horror that Equestria would soon face.


Sombra was once again blown back by magical force, but this time he had allowed the attack to connect. As he glanced under him, he saw many ponies stories beneath him running off as glass and debris began to fall towards him. He quickly extended several pillars of dark crystal for him to latch on and then jump onto as he looked back at Twilight in the gaping hole that she had created. Dusting himself off to signal that the assault had little affect on him, he fix his posture to that of a stallion with his head held high.

"And here I thought you were a natural." Sombra said through his stoic expression. "But all you can seem to accomplish is to just excrete raw darkness into an attack."

Twilight was clearly not happy with his words, but as she opened her mouth to rebuttal, she noticed something strange with the pillars Sombra had raised. Placing her hoof to her chin, she looked back and forth between each of the pillars around them. Finally she began to grunt as dark magic oozed from her horn. Slowly, a dark pillar of her own began to extend from the ground onto the opening she had created and she gently stepped onto it.

"You were saying?" She said with a smirk.

"I'm surprised it took you so long. I was able to do the same only moments after I used the tome." He said, though deep down he was impressed with how quickly she grasped the crystallization process. He, on the other hoof, studied crystals almost on a daily basis because of Diane's work.

"Will I ever get a praise out of you?" Twilight asked with a grimace, only to shoot a blast of energy that Sombra managed to jump away from, landing on one of the other pillars.

"Attacking me is the wrong way of going at it." He replied, jesting at their situation, trying to ease the tension that was filling the air.

"Just fight me!" She shouted again as he took to the air an continued to shoot bolts of dark energy at Sombra who proceeded to dodge and evade.

Running out of pillars to jump to, Sombra looked around for possible routes to take. Their current location was a strange one. They had blown a hole through a wall of the castle that led to several floor above a garden. Taking the opportunity, Sombra leaped down into the greenery with Twilight hot on his tail. Once on the ground he began to run, something that he seemed to be doing a lot of today. More bolts were shot and the noise made many of the garden critters run away.

"How long do you plan on running!?" The mare asked as she flew along side Sombra who didn't spare her a glance.

"For as long as I need to. You need to calm down so we may think of a solution to this." He said as he jumped over a stature which Twilight quickly evaded. While in the air, Sombra used dark magic to conjure a pillar he used to redirect himself and change directions, quickly galloping away to hide from the frustrated mare.

"Sombra!" Twilight shouted as she softly landed on the grass, her target no where in sight. "Come out and fight me!"

"Why are you so obsessed with battle?" Sombra's voice came from behind her. In a quick reaction Twilight shot in the sound's direction only to destroy a shrub.

"I want to know how strong I am compared to you. I need to know!"

"Can't handle thinking I might be stronger?" Again his voice sounded from somewhere, this time in a different direction than before.

"I can't handle not knowing. I had wanted to learn dark magic since the first time I saw what it could do in the Crystal Empire but I couldn't because I was afraid that it would make me like you. But now...after you have been successfully reformed I know that dark magic isn't a bad thing." She said as she tried to explain herself. To her own misfortune, dark crystals surrounded her, trapping her in place.

"You are right about dark magic. In it of itself, dark magic is not bad. But it has the potential to corrupt the user like it once did to me. Look at yourself Sparkle. You just destroyed a great amount of the castle and the garden, this isn't like the mare I know." Sombra said as he stepped out from the shadows.

"What do you know about me?!" She shouted from her imprisonment. "I have dedicated my life to learning for learning sake, and when I come across the one thing I cannot study because it is dangerous, I did my best to stay away from it. Now you come along and show me the dark arts, telling me it is alright and now I'm the bad guy?"

Sombra suddenly wasn't sure what to do. This was technically his fault, he showed her the art, taught her the magic. It was his fault. As his mind began to be clouded with doubts, Twilight took the opportunity to break free from the crystal cage erecting a crystal pillar beneath Sombra, knocking him up into the air. Quickly recovering from the damage, Sombra twisted his body and rolled off the tip of the pillar which he then used to propel himself to the side.

"I just want to know how far my strength has gone!" Twilight continued to shout as she chased the fleeing stallion.

Sombra was now long gone from the castle ground and on the streets of Canterlot. making sure he was never in any predictable patterns in his run, he would raise pillars to allow him to jump against the sides of other buildings to run along before jumping onto another.

With so many ponies around, Twilight was now being more conservative with her attacks, something that Sombra took notice of and gave him hope that perhaps she was not too deep into corruption. Though his thoughts were soon filled with knowing that his stamina was starting to run low and the streets were starting to run out. With a quick jump off one of the buildings, Sombra attempted something dangerous.

His flames in full ignition, Sombra allowed himself to fall a few stories down into an alley. Twilight followed him down as she began a dive. Suddenly a red crystal began to grow at the bottom where Sombra was headed and with a powerful blast of energy, he shot straight down. Preparing himself for the attack, the blast reflected off the crystal and began to come straight back at Sombra who was sent flying back up from the impact. Keeping his focus, he waited until he passed Twilight who was surprised to see him pull such a stunt to get above her.

Now with a clear shot, Sombra shot a small bolt of dark energy towards the confused mare. The attack only managed to scrape Twilight's horn, but that was the idea. Softly landing down in the alley, she did her best to recover from her disorienting disposition. Sombra was less subtle with his landing, a loud bang heard as his hooves dug into the concrete.

"That should buy us a few minutes." Sombra said as he began to pant, both from exhaustion and anxiety.

"Time for what?" Twilight asked, still shaking her head, trying to get her vision straight.

"For us to talk." He replied, though with a certain grunting to his voice, no doubt from the blast her used to re-position himself. "If you would just listen to me, I am sure we can still walk away from this without any pony getting hurt."

"No pony would get hurt if you just did as I asked!"

"And what? Fight? Say we did have a duel. What then? If I would have won, which is the most likely scenario, you would have stormed off looking for more power. If you would have won, you would have further fallen into your corruption from what the victory over me would have brought to your pride and thirst for strength."

"What would you have me do then!?"

"I would have you to listen!" Sombra shouted back, making his way to her. "I would have you remember your anchor, remember those who are important to you. Come back from the darkness and into the light." He said softly.

For a moment, it seemed to have worked. Twilight's irises turned to their purple tint as her tense posture relaxed slightly. With small grunts, she still wobbled around from side to side from her horn injury. Leaning against Sombra, she began to speak.

"Sombra?..." She said meekly.

"Yes, I'm here."

"I feel...weird." Twilight said as she placed a hoof to her head.

"It's alright. You just need some rest." Sombra said with a gentle smile, one that soon went away as he quickly turned around, a feeling of being watched befalling him. The dark alley where they had landed seemed to get darker still, and faint movements could be seen from the shadows.

"S-Sombra?" Twilight asked out, bringing his attention back to her. To his dismay, her irises were beginning to fade in and out of purple and into red.

"Sparkle, remember what it is your fighting for. Remember your friends." He said as he tried to keep her consciousness from slipping away. The more she fought with herself though, the more restless the darkness in the shadows became. Suddenly it all became clear to him. "So this is how the world can bring chaos..." He said to himself.

"S-Sombra..." Twilight called out again. This time the dark stallion took a step back as the mare's horn began to spark again, now working just fine. "Fight me." She said, her eyes crimson red and a smirk upon her face.


Stepping out from the train, Pinkie looked around the station as she hesitated move. For some reason she was nervous about getting to Canterlot, mostly because of how her friends had acted when she last some them. Shaking away those thoughts, she quickly got back to her quest: finding Sombra and Twilight.

Making her way into the city, Pinkie couldn't help but smile. She always loved the busy streets of Canterlot. Compared to Ponyville, there was just so much more happening around, and more ponies for her to meet and greet. It was truly an exciting experience to simply walk around the streets and hear every pony go on about their business.

"Did you hear? Princess Twilight was chasing Sombra." A voice in the background said, quickly grabbing Pinkie's attention.

"Doesn't he go by Sombra, The Reformed now? He's supposed to be a good guy now." Another voice responded.

"Well I know what I saw, and by the looks of it she was trying to hit him with spells. Maybe he isn't all that reformed after all."

"Think he did something wrong?"

Pinkie, though she wanted to eavesdrop more, was now more worried than before and quickly began to run down the streets of Canterlot. Where to? She wasn't sure, but she wanted to find her friends as fast as possible. Certainly this was some sort of misunderstanding. Right?

Finding them was no difficult task. All she had to do was run in the opposite direction every pony else was running from. As Pinkie turned the corner of a building, she was greeted by a rather unpleasant sight. A large portion of Canterlot was covered in crystal pillars which all seemed to extend in random patterns, Up above the streets, Twilight flew as she circled around one particular pillar. Shooting bolts of energy, the pony who was on top of it jumped off and defended against Twilight's assault. Another pillar was erected and caught the falling stallion.

"W-What is going on?" Pinkie asked herself as she saw Sombra raise more and more pillars of dark crystal, a landscape that seemed dire to his survival.

"Getting tired yet?" Twilight asked as he continued the pressure on Sombra.

"Hardly." He responded, though it was mostly a bluff. Truth be told, had he been fighting at one hundred percent he would have finished this already, but trying to keep from hurting Twilight proved to be a much more difficult task to accomplish while staying alive.

Finally getting tired of the cat and mouse game, Twilight's eyes released her own dark flames as she crystallized the environment around them. Raising spike that would have impaled the stallion, she aimed to kill and yet Sombra managed to avoid major damage apart from a few scratches and cuts. He was just as good as she thought he was. The more she tried to hurt him, the more confident she was that he would survive through her attack.

"You sure are good at staying alive." She said continued to try to trap him into her skewers.

"This is nothing compared to what I've lived through Sparkle." He responded as jumped to the side, dodging an otherwise lethal stab to the abdomen. As he saw her get more aggressive, it was clear that the confidence she was gaining was corrupting her more and more, what was worse is that he was running out of dark magic to use. Sombra knew it was now or never. He needed to bring her down before things gt even more out of hoof.

With one last pillar raised, Sombra was ready to go through with his plan. All around Twilight were pillars of Crystal that he had raised at what seemed to be random positions. In truth, he was preparing for a chance to strike between her defenses. One that wasn't too hard to spot given that Twilight had been on the offensive up until now, a counter attack was not easily foreseen given the circumstances.

"Sparkle, I do hope you forgive me." Sombra said as he lunged himself up into the air using his crystal pillars.

"You've left yourself open!" Twilight shouted as began to fly in his direction. Now that he was in the air, there was no way for him to dodge or block.

Sombra smiled as he saw her fall into his trap. From the pillars that have been erected, string like crystal was conjured that aimed at Twilight. Though she saw it coming, she was surrounded by these pillars, meaning that the string was now coming at her form all directions. It was her that could not dodge or evade. The liquid like crystal soon found it'self attached to the mare at several of her limbs, wings included. Once it made contact, it grew and began to consume her, leaving only her head out in the open while the rest of her body was trapped in a crystal cocoon.

"There..." Sombra said as he landed on the ground with a loud thud. "That..should hold you for a while." He said to himself as he watched Twilight struggle.

"Sombra!" Pinkie cried out as she ran to where he stood. Quickly getting his attention, she began to question the odd situation. "What's going on? Why are you two fighting!?"

"Pinkie..." He said softly. "Good, Sparkle needs you." The stallion said as he shifted his glance back to the alicorn. "Your friend seems to be struggling to maintain her sanity. I think you can help, being that you're once of her anchors."

"What?" Pinkie question, not fully understanding what Sombra was trying to say. Without time to give a thorough explanation, He quickly responded.

"I need you to talk to Sparkle, you can help her come to her senses. Just trust me."

Pinkie paused. She still wasn't following on what was going on, all she knew was that her friend was trapped and Sombra was the one responsible. Given the conversation she overheard, most ponies would have thought to simply call on others for help. But with a sigh, she pushed back any doubts she might have and placed her faith on him.

"What should I say?"

"I'm not sure. My own anchor was a crystal, not a pony. Perhaps just the sound of your voice will help." Sombra replied as he held out his hoof to her. Pinkie grabbed on as she had seen him do this many times already. Once again he pulled her in as he extended a pillar under them, taking them closer to Twilight.

"Twilight?" Pinkie asked out. "I, uh. I'm not sure what I should say, but I need you to listen to me. Sombra and I are here to help."

As if every word she spoke struck at her, Twilight would flinch and jolt her head at the sound. Gritting her teeth, she squinted her eye as she looked for her pink friend. "P-Pinkie?" Twilight asked out.

"I'm here!"

"Pinkie...I need you to...argh!" Twilight shouted, a wave of pain cursing through her body as her mind seemed to be plagued with strange memories. As if affected by the same ailment, Sombra turned his head away in a painful expression.


I'm sacred... What if I make a fool of myself?

I don't want this...

When is this going to end? How do I look?

I need more bits for the mortgage.

What if I get mugged in the streets?

What if I never get accepted?

Strange yet familiar voices echoed in his mind, voices that increased in both quantity and volume until nothing but screaming was heard in his head. Squinting with one eye, Sombra glanced over at Twilight who seemed to be fairing much worse than him. In her struggle, her horn began to glow in an oozing sick color of green and black, charging up and about to blow.

Acting as quickly as he could, Sombra wrapped his arms around Pinkie before jumping off from the pillars. Only seconds after doing so, Twilight set out a pulse of energy that both broke her out of her cocoon and destroyed the pillars around her. The wave of dark magic was so strong that even some of the surrounding buildings crumbled as they were impacted. Had she been on the ground when this happened, a good four blocks would have been destroyed.

Slowly opening her eyes, Pinkie noticed her fall has been broken by Sombra who seemed to struggle to keep his stoic expression. She quickly got off of him and helped him to his hooves.

"Are you okay!?"

"I..I'm fine. What of Sparkle?" He asked as he looked up only to see Twilight flying in place, her dark magic pulsing out of her though not lethal this time. Worried, they both remained quiet as they waited for some sort of movement out of her.

"Heh..." Twilight said as slowly looked around her. "Wow...dark magic is so powerful..." She said, her eyes red, though dull and lifeless. "What if some pony got a hold of this. Equestria would be in grim danger." Twilight's lifeless eyes suddenly clung to life, as if her purpose was redefined. "We need to prepare for something like this!" She shouted out.

"Sparkle?..." Sombra asked out. The mare in the air looked down at the black and pink ponies as a smile crept on her face.

"Equestria isn't ready for an attack from a mage of the dark arts! We need to prepare something like that."

"And why is that?" Sombra asked out, trying to make sense of her words.

"Just in case! We are so unprepared, we could easily fall to the power of darkness...I know! I can take the role of an attacker! Sombra, you're the expert when it comes to dark magic. If we have a mock battle against one another as if I were a villain, we can better prepare."

"You aren't making any sense!"

"You're not understanding the severity of this situation Sombra. Tell you what. I'll give you three days to prepare. I'll attack with everything I have and see who wins." Twilight said with a smile, oblivious to how mad her words sounded.

"You would risk the destruction of Canterlot? Risk bringing pain and suffering to ponies? To your friends?!" He replied, his voice well out of the boundary of indifference.

"Let's be honest." She replied with a smile. "You will keep every pony safe, won't you?"

"That isn't the point!" Sombra shouted as he erected a pillar of dark crystal under him, making his way towards Twilight.

"You're not going to let me leave are you?" She asked as she moved out of the way, evading him all together instead of fighting head on. "Then I've got a perfect idea of how to make you stay here, and it might even increase your reputation with other ponies!" Twilight said with a giggle, her madness made apparent now.

Sombra was about to make another charge at her but stopped as he saw her eyes burn in dark magic. He was preparing for an attack, but as time passed, it was made clear he wasn't her target. After a moment of trying to figure out what she was up to, he quickly realized her intentions when the ground beneath them shook. The mountain side to where Canterlot was attached began to move.

With his eyes opening wide in surprise, he knew that the mountain wasn't the one moving, it was Canterlot. Twilight had weakened the earth keeping the city stable where it was located, and with that support done away with, the city was now sliding down the slope of the mountain, and soon it would crash into Ponyville.

"You might want to get a move on if you want to save every pony." Twilight said with a grin.

"Curse you Sparkle!" Sombra shouted as he jumped forward, dashing beside the mare in an effort to jump off the pillar and towards the edge of Canterlot. As they came next to each other, time seemed to slow down. A quick glance to the mare he was moving past gave him mix fillings Though she still held that grin, her eyes held sadness. A grimace that could only be on a pony with a conscious. Somewhere deep in side that mare was Twilight.

Sombra didn't have time to ponder of what he saw in her eyes, instead he just threw himself over buildings as he moved as fast as he could to get to the furthest wall of the city. Making over it, he dived down as he tried to beat the city down to ground. The wind cut at him as he moved fast in a straight line towards the ground. His heart raced as the hard floor grew ever closer, but he didn't have time to give in to his doubts and worries. Once below the falling city his eyes exploded in flames as many crystal pillars extended form the ground and hit the base of Canterlot.

Though they seemed to slow down the fall, it still wasn't enough to bring it to a stop. In a final shout to the heavens, Sombra used all of his remaining magic to conjure up as many dark pillars as he could to hold up the city, and though he saw it come to a stop. He was left drained. Not a single drop of magic left in him, certainly not enough to help survive the fall he was now meters away from. He lost all his strength as he felt his consciousness give in to exhaustion.

Just as Sombra was about to hit the ground, he was caught by two flying mares. Luna and Celestia both clung to his limp body as they struggled to keep from hitting the ground themselves. Slowly the managed to stabilize themselves and softly landed.

"Sombra just saved every pony in Canterlot." Luna said as he looked down at the unconscious stallion. "He hast given his all to protect us. How could thou ask more of him? He's nothing more to give."

Celestia looked over Sombra with saddened eyes she spoke in a hushed voice. "I know I am asking a lot, perhaps too much of Sombra. But sometimes...A city of light must be held up by a pillar of darkness." She said as she looked up at Canterlot, the once graceful city now casting a shadow over them. "The light that cannot exist if the darkness goes away."

42. A Broken Will

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Feeling groggy, Sombra slowly opened his eyes. His vision was blurred as he struggled to focus. His surroundings weren't foreign to him, but they weren't reassuring either. With a blue crystal ceiling above him, he began to plead he wasn't where he thought he was. A wet towel soon interrupted his train of thought as he saw a blue hoof move around him.

"So you've finally woken up. You sure know how to sleep." An old mare said as she smiled down at him. Sombra's eyes remained dull despite being conscious, his weak and frail feeling not leaving his body.

"Agatha..." He managed to say, his voice barely audible.

"Hush now. You seem to be weak form using up all dark magic. My, I haven't seen you like this since the battle of Arlock shore. You remember that don't you? You decided to go in as a one pony army and barely came out alive." Agatha said as she began to reminisce on the past.

"Agatha, where am I?" Sombra asked, not really looking forward to the answer.

"In the Crystal Empire of course. I thought you would have figured that out already." She said with a giggle. walking over to a near by window and pulled the curtains aside, allowing him a view of the empire.

Sombra sighed as he looked out the window from where he laid on the bed. It was a melancholy sight to be hold, but not one he was mentally prepared for. For many nights he would dread of ever returning, ever showing his face to the ponies he cruelly ruled for so long. Scared to know that maybe they still feared him and thought of him as a tyrant.

"You were brought here along with all of Canterlot and Ponyville. Many towns all over are making their way here as well."


"Well, Canterlot isn't exactly a stable place despite your efforts. You indeed managed to save every pony, so there's that. Still, Princess Twilight was not found after every pony was evacuated, for security measures Princess Cadence offered to house as many ponies as we could here in the empire." Agatha said as she pointed to the surrounding area of the empire. What once was grasslands was now a camping area.

"Do they know where Sparkle is?" Sombra asked as he tried to get up, but his legs couldn't seem to sustain his own weight. Agatha frowned as she saw her old friend so weak, definitely not a side of him she was used to seeing. Coming to his aid, Sombra leaned on her as he tried to get to his hooves.

"Princess Celestia sent Discord to find her. He can sense magical imbalances, so she shouldn't be too hard to find for him..." She said, though trailing of as her sentence went on.


"But...if Princess Twilight managed to weaken you so much, I don't know if it is such a good idea to find her. I mean, we're having a hard enough time to keep things together as it is. His magic would be really useful right about now."

"How long have I been out?" Sombra asked as he gesture his friend to help him out the door. With a sigh, she complied to his request. It was useless to deny him. He would just find some way of leaving on his own anyway.

"About a day and a half. Why?"

"Sparkle said that she would come back and play the role of the bad guy. She gave me three days to prepare." She said with a grunt. "I've wasted one already."

"Oh Sombra..." Agatha said under her breath. Once again he was trying to pull off a miracle. While he could do so most of the time, each time he did he always came back inches from death. Sombra always had that luck about him, always just barely avoiding death, but every pony knew it was luck, and luck can run out. By the looks of it, Sombra's luck had run out long ago.

"Where are the princesses?" He asked as they slowly made their way through out the building they were in. As he had expected, he was in the Royal Library where she worked. No doubt she had requested to take care of him.

"They are in the castle along with the remaining Elements of Harmony. you're not planning on going are you?"

"Of course I am." He said as he once again tried to walk on his own. Seeing him struggle broke Agatha's heart, but she allowed him the freedom he craved and soon he was taking slow steps on his own.

"Why can't you let others do some of the work? You'll end up killing yourself if you keep on like this." She said, making Sombra stop in his tracks. With a slow turn of his head, he looked at his old friend.

"Thing is, I have already died many times over. I was once Elite Blood, but he died in the blizzard. I was also once Sombra The Tyrant, but he was killed. Now I am Sombra, The Reformed. If I am to die and be reborn again, it would be nothing new." He said as he reached the door to the library. Using almost all of his strength to even turn the knob, the sound of the door creak echoed in the empty library.

As the outside became revealed to him, his eyes were set ablaze as he felt a heavy weight of fear and depression befall him from the emotions every pony outside held. Their heads down, ponies slowly walked down the streets of the Crystal Empire. Many seemed to have given up hope, after all, one of their Princesses had turned to the dark side. A pillar of hope that once held them up had betrayed them. Who could blame them for feeling anxious and distressed?

The sudden surge in his dark magic was almost overwhelming, so much so that Sombra was stunned as he took in his surroundings. Agatha soon joined him, oblivious to the reason he had stopped moving.

"As much as I want to stop you. As much as I want to tell you to let others handle it this time, one look outside tells me that they need you. I'm sorry." She said as she turned to him, a gentle glance up at the stall stallion. "We are always depending on you, I'm sorry that you have to carry us on your shoulders."

Sombra spared her a look as she spoke. "Do not apologize. It gives me a purpose. I will happily take your burdens if it means that my dark magic can be used for something other than destruction." He said as he began to walk, now no need for aid from how much his dark magic healed him.

It had been many centuries since last time he walked the streets of the Crystal Empire. However, he still knew them, he still remembered each nook and cranny of the empire. He could even recall some of the names of the ponies around them. Ponies that were shocked to see him as he passed.

"It's King Sombra..." One stallion said as he watched him pass. The name almost made him cringe, but he feigned ignorance. As he walked, more and more crystal ponies became glanced his way, remaining still.

At this moment Sombra felt shame and guilt. Who was he to walk these streets again? After what he had done to them, after how he treated those he swore to protect. This was disrespect in the highest regard and more than anything, it was saddening to see the once glowing crystal ponies dim in their depression. What Sombra did not notice, however, was that as he walked by, those that saw him we revitalized, their coats shinning and glowing. No flames erupted from Sombra's eyes either, meaning no pony was afraid of him. Still, his guilt left him blind to these small details.

Letting out a sigh as he closed his eyes, Sombra tried to clear his mind. He needed to get to the castle, regroup with the elements and princesses. There was little time to waste, but some how, he couldn't bring himself to run.

Sombra felt as if he wanted to prolong this walk. Make it last forever. It reminded him of the old days, the days he lived as nothing more than a soldier who looked for changelings. Some pony who every pony else knew was there to help. He missed those days. He missed when others came to him for help, he missed being useful to others, having a purpose. He missed being a just king.

Sombra let out a deep breath as he looked up at the castle. It was just as he remembered it from before, beautiful and grand. His walk had come to an end which brought some sadness to him, but he knew he had wasted enough time and so with a fortified heart, he began to make his way in.

Guards saw him, but none said a word. Sombra did not need to speak either. As he came to a pair, they stood in silence as they stared at each other. Suddenly one of the guards pointed down a hall and Sombra went in that direction. Every pony knew where he needed to go and why, there was no need to exchange words of any sort.

Finally he reached his destination, and like he had thought, every pony had gathered in the tactics chamber. It was a room he had placed in the castle way back in his early days as king. It was simple, just a single round table where many could come and talk of how to win a particular battle. Nothing special about it, only that as Sombra opened the doors to the chamber, he was met with shocked faces.

All the elements safe for Twilight were present, same with the princesses, but they stared at him wide eyed when he made his entrance.

"S-Sombra!" Pinkie shouted as she ran up to him. "You're alright!" She said with a smile, one that not many others shared. Every pony turned to look at Rainbow Dash who seemed like she was about to exploded from anger.

"Hold it right there!" Rainbow shouted as she flew between him and Pinkie. "What are you doing here?"

Sombra wasn't exactly shocked to see her so offensive towards him, it was normal, but there was something more...real about it this time.

"I've come to speak to you all about Sparkle, she-"

"We know! Every pony knows! She went crazy with dark magic and nearly killed every pony in Canterlot...and it's all your fault!" She shouted, getting ever closer to Sombra.

"Rainbow Dash!" Applejack said, calling her out on the statement. "Ya know it ain't like that!"

"Yes darling. Sombra always did his best to keep Twilight from getting corrupted." Rarity spoke out this time.

"Big help that was. In the end, it didn't matter did it?" She replied.

Sombra wanted to argue back, tell his side of the story. Tell every pony how it was ultimately Twilight's fault for disobeying him. For hiding her training from him. He wanted to say he wasn't responsible for this mess, but for some reason they the words wouldn't leave his throat. Instead they remained trapped there, slowly choking him, and the more he fought the feeling, the worse it became.

"Sombra did the best he could with what he had." Celestia said as she too stood up to defend him. "I am sure he can explain it better to us, tell us what it was that happened won't you...Sombra?" She said as she turned to him. To every pony's surprise, the once graceful poise he had entered with had become one of grimace that trembled, as if it would collapse under it's own weight.

"Sombra? Whats wrong?" Pinkie asked him. Without raising his head, Sombra turned on his heels and walked to the doors he had come through. Placing a hoof on the the frame to the door, he spoke in a soft voice.

"Sparkle told me she would like to play the role of a villain before she left. She said she would give us three days to prepare before her assault."

At once every pony erupted into chaos.


"What do ya mean 'play the villain'?"

"Oh dear, Twilight wants to attack us?"

"We've already spent more than day just looking for her. Sister, should We move the resources to that of war instead of searching for her?"

Every pony began to speak over one another, trying to get their talk out what their next plan of action was, and in the chaos, Sombra began to make his retreat out of the chamber. Quickly taking notice, Pinkie called out to him.

"Sombra? Where are you going?" She asked, once more getting every pony's attention.

"I don't know. I suppose I'll just fade into the background until this is over." He said, pausing in his walk, still not facing her...not having the courage to face her or any pony for that matter.

"What? Surely thou jests." Luna asked out as she joined Pinkie by the door.

"We still need your help!" Pinkie echoed through the halls.

"I've helped enough!" Sombra shouted out, his voice, though bold and loud had a hint of distraught in it. "Rainbow Dash is right, this is all my fault! I taught Sparkle the magic that corrupted her. Everything around me only breaks down. It is best if I just fade away, I'll only bring pain and suffering otherwise." He said, continuing on his walk.

"Good riddance!" Rainbow Dash shouted as she watched him go. Once he was out of sight, she quickly went back into the room where she began the conversation again. Leaving Pinkie looking out, staring at where Sombra used to be with a heavy heart.

Sombra soon made it outside, his posture still slumped and weak. He had been the pillar that held others up for so long that it had left him brittle. He could only sustain so much weight, and now he was crumbling under the burdens he once was willing to carry. He who had given everything he had was left with nothing else to offer. Sombra, who had withstood all kinds of hardships was now left in a broken state, after all, nothing is eternal. Time has a way at withering away even the hardest and toughest of rocks.

So now, as Sombra gazed into the outside as night slowly began to set in, the second day was coming to a close. And Sombra was now in no position to help. He was will was...shattered. Just as Agatha feared he would be one day. He finally collapsed under the weight he tried to carry on his own. After all, no one pony can carry the whole world on their shoulders, not even some pony like Sombra.

43. Trust

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The sound of hooves clopping on the cold hard ground was all Sombra was focused on. His gaze was at the ground and his eyes dull from disinterest in anything going on around him. He was walking, though to where he did not know. What he did know, was that he didn't want to stop any time soon. He just wanted to get away from everything.

Something did catch his attention though. The sound he was so focused on now suddenly changed. Instead of the hard sounds his hooves made on contact with the ground, it was not a soft crunch. Actually playing attention to the ground, Sombra realized that he was now on grass instead of the stone streets of the empire. A glance around made it apparent that he was in the refuge camp.

With a faint sigh, he shook away whatever thoughts came to his mind. He didn't need to think didn't want to think, he was done with everything. Still, every cell in his body prodded him to think of a solution. Sombra made himself believe it was out of force of habit, but the bottom line was that despite not wanting to interfere, he still cared deeply about those around him.

Going against his better judgement, Sombra's mind raced as scenario after scenario played out in his head. A way to deal with Twilight and get things back to normal, or as close to it as he could. He wanted to bring a stable life back to Equestria, the life he had ripped apart because he did not watch himself. Another sigh escaped him as once again Sombra fell into shame and despair for himself.

His downward spiral, however, did not last very long. Ponies had gathered around him, so many that even in his distracted state he noticed.

"You!" One stallion screamed out. "How dare you show your face here!"

Sombra remained quiet as he soon realized what was happening.

"What did you do to Princess Twilight?!" A mare shouted from the crowd

"You brought this to us!"

"Our home is gone because of you!"

Again and again ponies shouted at him. They shouted out their desperate cries of pain and suffering that he had caused. Sombra's vigilant eyes quickly scanned the crowd and it became clear that a riot was about to break loose. One pony reached for a stone, no doubt to throw at him and though he could have stopped him, maybe even just dodged it, Sombra simply closed his eyes and took a breath. He was ready to take anything they would throw at him. Nothing mattered to him anymore, he deserved it.

To Sombra's surprise, the stone never hit him. The lack of noise from an impact also made it seem like it was never thrown. Slowly he opened his eyes to see the stone floating just inches away from his face, a yellow aura holding it in place.

"I won't let you hurt Mister Sombra!" A voice shouted by his hooves. Sombra looked down to see Dinky facing off against the crowd of ponies all ready to kill him, no doubt they would have no problem going through a filly.

Murmurs were heard among the ponies as they began to debate why Dinky was defending him.

"Isn't that Derpy's daughter?"

"Did he corrupt her too?"

"She's just as bad as Sombra if she's on his side."

Sombra's eyes opened wide as he saw them all step forward in aggression, though Dinky didn't falter. She stood her ground and was even preparing to fight back. Pulling the stone back, she was ready to throw it, but Sombra grabbed it with his hoof. shocking her.

"Every pony calm down." He said as he stepped forward, getting between the masses and the filly. "Yes, I am responsible for Twilight Sparkle's madness, and I will wholeheartedly accept any punishment you wish to give me. Throw stones if you wish. Push me out into exile. I care not, but do not hurt Dinky Doo, it is I who is at fault not her." He said, raising his head up high once more.

Though those that threw accusations had been headstrong at first, their determinations seemed to had died down. They all glanced at one another as they began to ponder to actually do anything to Sombra. Slowly, they began to disperse, leaving him and Dinky alone in the grass field and returning to their tents.

"Wow!" Dinky shouted. "How did you get them to stand down?"

Sombra's eyes began to dull again, the fire that had sparked when he declared himself at fault seemed to have diminished and he had returned to his sadden self. "I suppose they thought me not worth punishing after all." He said as he began to walk. Dinky began to follow him, something was clearly wrong with him and she was worried.

"Mister Sombra?" She asked out, but didn't receive a response, he continued to walk with his head down. "What's wrong?"

"Dinky, it would be best if you stayed away from me." Sombra finally said as he came to a sudden stop.


"I tend to hurt those around me."

"Really? Cause I just saw you save me from those bad ponies."

"They aren't bad...just afraid and they have the right to be so. I brought in the destruction of Equestria." Sombra said as he began to walk again, once more Dinky followed.

"You mean about Princess Twilight?"

"The magic I taught her corrupted her. She turned evil because of me."

"You taught me magic too, remember? I haven't turned evil. At least I don't think I'm evil." The filly said, oblivious to the grim circumstances around her. She managed to get a soft chuckle out of f him.

"Dinky, I taught you normal magic, the one that comes from inside you, from your heart. The magic I use, the magic I taught Sparkle is dark magic. It comes from fear and hatred."

"Does that mean you have fear and hatred in your heart?"

", it means I absorb fear and hatred from other ponies. That fear becomes the basis for my power to create crystal constructs." He said, trying to find a simple way of explaining how dark magic works, though not able to ind the right method to convey the message to a filly.

"That sounds awesome!" Dinky said with a small hop. "That means that you help ponies get rid of their fears!"

Furrowing his eyebrows, Sombra was left confused. "What?"

"You said you use other pony's fears to power your magic right? That means that you take away what they are afraid of and use it to make yourself stronger. Right?"

Sombra's sadden expression disappeared once more as his curiosity won over his self pity. He took a moment to look around to see all the depressed ponies around him who got back to their lives. Struggling to bring out his dark flames, he began to willingly drain fear from those around him.

Will we ever get home?

Where is mommy?

Did he make it back?

How will my sons react when I tell them all our stuff are gone?

Princess Celestia will fix everything, won't she?
We'll get back home, right?

I wanna go home

I don't like this place

I miss my bed

Voices were once again filling Sombra's mind as he came to understand where the voices he heard back in Canterlot came from and why the sounded so familiar. Dinky seemed to be right, when he drains a pony's fears he takes them in along with their fearful thoughts. Something he wasn't aware off before.

"So all this time..." Sombra said as a glimmer came to his eyes. "I truly was helping, I was able to take the fear of others and help them from it."

Dinky's smile only grew larger as she saw him begin to return to his old self, though it was a short victory as Sombra let out a sigh that reverted him back.

"This...doesn't change anything." He said as he continued to walk away. This time, Dinky chose not to follow as he pouted at his stubbornness.

"What is wrong with him?" She asked out with her cheeks puffed out. Deciding it was best to simply leave him be, she began to make her way back to her own tent where she and her mother were staying. The trip was short and without any delays.

"Mommy?" She asked out as she pulled her tent curtain to the side as she entered.

"Yes?" Derpy asked as she stirred soup in a cooking pot. The mare held a gentle smile as she gazed down at the food she was cooking, something she was grateful she could still do for her daughter.

"What's for dinner?"

"Some soup I made from the stuff I bought at the market earlier." She said as she began to set their small table.

"I saw Mister Sombra today." Dinky said as she sat down, her mother serving the food for them.

"Really? I heard he had been unconscious since the fight in Canterlot. How is he?" Derpy asked without missing a beat in her motions, quickly getting everything ready for their meal and then joining her daughter.

"I don't know..." The filly said as she placed an elbow on the table, pressing her face against her hoof. "Some ponies were picking on him, saying he was responsible for what happened..."

"Ahem" Derpy said as she gestured to her daughter's arm, quickly making her sit right up. Happy with how everything was set, she began to eat the soup. "Some ponies need to blame others to feel better." She quickly said.

"Yeah, but why Mister Sombra?" Dinky asked as she began to use her magic to stir her soup before getting spoon fulls into her mouth. As Derpy saw her use her magic, she was quickly reminded of how much help Sombra had been to them, and how her daughter just went on and on about him whenever she could.

"Sombra has it tough, many ponies are afraid of him because of his...past. They would prefer to lash out instead of understanding where he is coming from."

"Are you afraid of him?"

"Not anymore." Derpy said with a soft smile. "I was when I first found out who he was."

"What made you change your mind about him?"

"I found out who he is now. He's made some mistakes in his past, but we all do. We can't hold him accountable for them, especially since he seemed to truly regret what he had done."

Dinky looked down at her soup bowl and stared at her reflection for a while. Finally making up her mind, she grabbed the bowl with her hooves and began to chug the entire soup down as quickly as she could. Afterward she shot out of her seat and ran outside.

"Thanks for the meal! I gotta go help Mister Sombra, I'll be back later!" Dinky shouted out, already well out of the tent, leaving her mother with a soft half smile and caring eyes. Quietly she returned to her meal and took one spoon full before talking to herself.

"Sombra, a lot of ponies care about you. I wonder what the future holds for you."


Dinky ran back and forth all over the empire looking for Sombra. For a stallion that often stood out, he was incredibly hard to find this time. No doubt he had hidden himself away somewhere, but Dinky wasn't about to quit, besides, she was Ponyville's hide-and-seek champ. This was just another challenge for her.

Coming to a stop, the small filly began to think hard about where her friend could be. "Mister Sombra was really sad, he'd probably would like to be somewhere where no pony would ever bother him..." Slowly her gaze shifted upward. Up above there were several towers where one had a beautiful vista of the empire, and for a pony who was almost obsessed with the past, it would make a great bench where he could stare at his past home.

A grin spread across Dinky's face as she quickly turned around and began to run, but as she turned, she hit something. Bouncing back and landing on the ground, she heard a mare speak.

"Oh goodness, are you alright?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yeah..." Dinky said as she stood up, dusting herself off. "Sorry, I didn't mean to bump into you, I was. Hey wait a minute! You're one of Mister Sombra's friends aren't you?"

Fluttershy was a little confused, but the filly began to explain the situation. The pegasus' expression changed as she looked up to the tower.

"You can get up there much faster than I can, think you can talk to him for me?" She asked out with a smile.

"I-I'll try. Just leave it to me." Fluttershy said as she took to the air, making her way up to towers. A quickly look around the rooftops and Sombra was quickly found. The poor stallion sat on the red tiles as he stared off into the horizon of the Empire. His eyes were still dull, but they had a sense of rich melancholy, as if looking for an old memory to latch on to.

The yellow mare smiled as she saw him and began to make her her way to him, but her momentum was lost as she got a better look at him. Sombra was not one to express his emotions, so this state of sadness broke Fluttershy's heart, she hated to see him like that. She began to think to herself of how she could help. How she could perhaps console him. But nothing come to her. She was at a loss at how she could be of any help to him. Slowly, she looked over at the crystal castle as he gradually began to make up her mind. With a sigh and watery eyes, Fluttershy flew in the castle's direction.


The night was beginning to set in and with it, so too did Sombra's dark thoughts. To him, the dark was a comfort where he could be left alone to his thoughts, but the last thing he wanted to do was think right now. All he wished for was to forget, forget everything and disappear.

"Mind if I sit here?" A gentle voice asked. Sombra turned to see Fluttershy timidly flying just over the roof top of the tower, the flapping of her wings muffled by the sound of the wind.

"I'd rather be alone Fluttershy." He responded as he went back to his view.

"I won't be long." She said as she sat down anyway. "I just wanted to apologize."

"Apologize for what?" Sombra asked, not exactly sure what she was talking about.

"For not being able to help you. For not being able to bring a smile to your face." She said in a soft voice, not looking his way. "Ever since the day you told me you needed me, back when Chrysalis attacked I had a crush on you." Fluttershy said, her face beet red.

Sombra sighed as he turned in her direction. "Fluttershy I-" He was interrupted when the mare held up her hoof, gesturing that she was not yet done.

"I wanted to be there for you, for anything you needed. But it looks like now when you need some pony the most I can't help. I want to help, but I don't know how. Maybe it's because I don't know you well enough, or maybe I'm just not cut out to help comfort you. Either way, I just wanted to say that I was sorry..."

"You have nothing to apologize for. I suppose I shouldn't have allowed this to go on for as long as it did, perhaps I would not have broken you heart." He said, not exactly sure of what to say to the mare.

"It's alright. This is no pony's fault. But you don't need me right now, you need some pony who can help cheer you up." Fluttershy said as she stood back up. "Right Pinkie?"

Behind them, Pinkie climbed up from a window, silently waiting for them to finish. Sombra looked behind them and was even more distraught. The two mares he had led on were here trying to help him, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything to them. This strange sensation only worsened how he felt.

"I'll leave you two alone." The pegasus said a she walked by Pinkie.

"Thanks." Pinkie said in a whisper as her friend passed her by. With a nod to her, Fluttershy took off into the air, leaving an awkward atmosphere for the dark stallion and pink mare.



"What are you looking at?" Pinkie said as she sat down next to Sombra.

Raising his hoof to point out the grass land outside the empire, Sombra spoke. "There used to be a horrible blizzard there. Ever since Mi Amore took over the empire for me, the storm had retreated into the mountains, but back in my time that whole area was one big storm."

"Did something happen there?"

"I died." Sombra said quietly. "Elite Blood died right there, and Sombra took his place." Again He looked around and pointed to another place in the empire, this time the Royal Library. "Sombra died there, and was reborn as Sombra, The Embodiment of Darkness. Then there, Sombra became a King and then a Tyrant." He said as he shifted his eyes to the castle.


"And then right over there, just off the balcony of the castle, the Tyrant died and became just Sombra again. And soon after that." He said as he placed a hoof to his chest. "That Sombra was reborn as became reformed. Sombra, The Reformed."

"And what happened to that Sombra?" Pinkie asked.

"I've yet to figure that out." He said as he turned his gaze to the horizon.

"You know...we could really use your help right now."

"I don't have anything to contribute."

"You haven't tried..."

"I've thought of ways to try to solve Equestria's problem, but none of them have a very high chance of working, especially not the ones where Sparkle has a chance of survival."

"So you've thought this through?"

"Various times...The one solution that has the most likely chance of working is not even a fifty fifty chance."

"But it's better than nothing, we could go back and tell-"

"No..." He interrupted. "That plan will never work."

"Why not?"

"Because..." He said before sighing. "I have to drain Sparkle of her dark magic."

"What's the problem?"

"That she and I are of the same rank in the dark arts, once the connection is made, it will be a battle of wills to see who drains whose magic. In order for me to have a higher chance of success I have to break her will. I have to find the one thing that will make her crumble, I have to take on the role I once took as Tyrant and break her down until she is nothing and then I will be able to drain her magic..." Sombra said as he clenched his teeth. "I do not want to become a Tyrant again."

"You won't become a Tyrant..."

"Only a Tyrant is capable of doing such a thing to some pony. Only a cruel being could shatter one's very being. But let's ignore that for just a moment. Let's say I do this and win, I will then have all of Sparkle's magic. What is stopping me from going mad again? What is stopping me from losing my sanity as well? You'd have an even greater threat than before. This plan has the highest possible chance of success, but it comes with too many risks in the long run. I cannot go through with it. I don't trust myself to do so..."

Pinkie remained quiet as she thought of a way to prove to him he was wrong. She had been the only one to trust Sombra since the beginning and time and time again he had proven worthy of her trust. He wasn't wrong in his doubts, but deep inside her she knew that if he went through with this he could handle it.

Taking a deep breath, Pinkie stood up and face Sombra. They exchanged gazes for a while as her heart began to beat faster and faster for what she was about to do.

"Sometimes Sombra, you have to take a leap of faith." She said as she left her body fall off the tower. The air pushed against her as she began to descend towards the hard ground. Sombra quickly jumped after her as his eyes sparked in flames. They were small from his lack of will power, but the closer the ground became, the more he pushed himself until the dark blaze as in full throttle.

Diving close to the tower, Sombra's hooves slid and scrapped against the stone bricks. Timing things right, he used his dark magic to propel himself with a small pillar that he extended from the tower. Quickly catching up to Pinkie, he wrapped his arms around her as he erected a spiral pillar from the ground where they were heading to. Using it as a slide to soften their fall, Sombra threw Pinkie on his back as he crystallized his hooves and slid on the spiral crystal, gently coming to a stop once they reached the ground.

"Are you mad!?" Sombra shouted to the mare as she jumped off him only to wrap her hooves around his neck in a tight hug. His expression soften as his eyes lit up from fear...her fear.

"I was so scared that you wouldn't get to me in time..." She said softly.

"Then why did you jump?"

"Because I trust you." She said as she took a step back. "Sombra, every pony trusts you. Even Twilight trusted you to save Canterlot when she did what she did. So please, trust in yourself..."

"I can't, I do not want to even think of what would happen if I-"

"So what if you become a Tyrant?!" Pinkie shouted out. "I'll just reform you again! You can become a Tyrant twenty times over and I will be there next to you each and every time to get you to see the light. I'll be here for you, I'll be here to keep you from going mad. So please...please trust in yourself like I trust in you..." Pinkie said as she began to tremble. Holding back her tears, she embraced him once more as Sombra began to take in each word she had spoken.

They stood still for a while as Sombra forced himself to speak.

"Okay..." He said hesitantly. "I'll trust in myself to go through with this. But I am also going to trust in you to keep me in check if anything goes wrong." He said as he pulled her back, looking at her teary eyes. With a soft smile Pinkie nodded. "Good." Sombra said as they separated, his stance was once again tall and graceful. "We've better get back to the others, we've wasted enough time."



Sombra and Pinkie quickly made their way around the castle. Reaching their destination he pushed open the doors to the tactics chamber, making quite a loud entrance.

"Sombra!" The mares shouted out. "You're back."

"Yes, and I have a plan that can get Sparkle back." He said as he walked to the table.

"Hold up!" Rainbow Dash interjected. "I thought you were through meddling. We don't need your help, you'll only cause more problems!"

Some of the mares motioned that they were about to speak out, but Celestia stopped them. Holding her wing out to hold back the other, she allowed Rainbow and Sombra to face off against each other, something about how Sombra's eyes looked gave her hope.

"Not now Rainbow Dash, we've wasted enough time already, we need to prepare."

"Exactly! And you're getting in the way of our preparations, so beat it!"

Turning to look at her with a stern look, Sombra took a deep breath. "Mare, I know you and I do not see each other eyes to eye, and I understand that. But right now, I am your only hope of bringing Twilight Sparkle back from her insanity, so either get with me or get out. I've no time to waste."

"And what? Am I suppose to just trust you?"

"Yes. You can do whatever you wish to me after this whole mess is over, but right here, right now, trust in me. Trust that I will do as I say and bring things back to how they were before."

"And if you can't?"

"I can. I am Sombra, The Reformed, and I can do anything I set myself out to do." He said, not backing off from his position. The chamber stayed quiet for a while as Sombra and Rainbow glared at each other. It seemed to had gone on forever, but finally the pegasus spoke.

"Fine!" She shouted. "For Twilight. I'll trust you for Twilight, but I swear, if you don't bring her back..."

"I will. And once I do, everything will be back to like the time before I had arrived."

"I'll hold you to that." Rainbow Dash said as she sat back down. "So what's this marvelous plan of yours?"

Sombra began to breath easily now him and every pony else in the room. Every pony smiled as they saw things become a little less chaotic, but more so because Sombra was back in the team. He truly was the only pony who could think of a way out of this And after a moment to collect his thoughts, Sombra opened his mouth to speak.

"We need to fight Sparkle. We have to fight fire with fire."

"So thou wish to fight Twilight Sparkle alone?" Luna asked.

"No, Sparkle is a natural, by now she must wield more raw dark power than even I. I cannot best here in a one on one."

"So a combined assault?" Cadence asked out this time.

"Yes, though only of me and Luna." Sombra said, getting a few gasps from the room.

"Yer kiddin'! You expect us to just sit back and twiddle our hooves?" Applejack asked out, many others seemed to agree with her.

"You're all forgetting where dark magic is drawn from. Fear and Hatred. Right now every pony out there is just a power source to Sparkle. Celestia and Mi Amore need to be pillars of hope for every pony to lean on. The presence of the Elements of Harmony would further improve the morale."

"We hate to be pessimistic, but art thou sure we could even take on Twilight just the two of us?"

"We can...if we change things up a little."

"How so?"

"I ask forgiveness in advanced Luna, what I am about to ask of you is something perhaps out of line."

"Well do not hold thy tongue. Speak so We may hear thine plan already."

Taking a moment to brace himself for what he was about to say, Sombra spoke. "I need you to become Nightmare Moon."

"What!?" Every pony shouted in unison, quickly beginning to argue back.

"Quiet now, We wish to hear him out." Luna said as she hushed the room.

"I read about how you turned into Nightmare Moon. The Nightmare forces of the moon possessed you. In my smoke form, I am pure dark energy, similar to those forces. I could act as the shade that took over you, allowing you to both use dark magic and take on the form of Nightmare Moon." He said, explaining his plan out. "Both you and I are still from the era of war a thousand years ago. You remember how to fight. With dark magic you can be an even greater warrior."

"And what is stopping Us from falling into the same madness Twilight fell to? Surely thou jests if thou thinks to teach Us how to use the dark arts in a day."

"You won't have to worry about that. Once I am absorbed into your subconscious, I will fight off any demons that might plague your mind. You will have nothing to worry about."

Luna stayed silent for a moment as she thought everything through. With a sigh, she raised her head and smile. "Alright, We shall go through with this endeavor."

"Are you sure?" Cadence asked.

"Yes. Sombra has yet to be wrong. His mind has the uncanny ability to see all possible outcomes."

"If my father did one thing, it was to keep a vigilante eye on everything. I assure you, if we go through with this, we can bring Sparkle back." He said, almost boasting. Sombra took another deep breath as he turned to face Celestia.

"One last thing..." He said, getting the sun goddess's attention.


"I am going to need that vase."

44. A Cutiemark in the Shape of a Red Crystal

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Entering the crystal throne room, Sombra led the group of mares towards the cold hard seat of a royal. Coming to a stop, he glanced over at the Sun Goddess for directions.

"The vase is located where you had hidden the Crystal Heart." Celestia said as she stepped forward and came to his side. "Will you do the honors?"

"Of all the places, you had to pick here." Sombra said with a decelent sigh. Taking a hard stance as he ignited his eyes in a purple blaze, he sent a small bolt of dark magic towards the top of the throne, the ground beneath them began to slide away. Quickly every pony jumped to the side to avoid falling. Sombra, remembering where everything was placed, stood in the one spot where the ground did not shake.

"What's wrong here?" Cadence asked as she glanced down at the dark spiraling stair case.

"This is where my coronation took place." He said as he began to take a step down. With each hoof he placed on the black crystal step a flame ewuld spark into ignition in the center of the spiral, gently floating and hovering as they lit the way down.


"When you first came to the Crystal Empire you were some pony we took as a threat." A council pony said as he stood in front of Sombra who was kneeling down before him and the others behind him. They stood in front of the throne of the Empire, the very throne that now rested vacant because of the murder of the Princess just the day prior.

"Now you stand before us as our only hope in survival. What say you to this?"

"We are of different lands." Sombra began as he continued to stay kneeled. "But we have both lost a great deal in this war. I will bring an end to this madness in one last fight. You have my word."

The ponies began to whisper among themselves behind the main one Sombra spoke to. With a loud hush, they all quiet down as the council pony began to speak once more.

"Then I here by crown you Prince of the Crystal Empire." He said as he turned around to walk to the throne. Those around him back out of his path to allow him through. He reached for the crown that had been made for Sombra, but as he turned back around, he was shocked to see the dark stallion standing.

"I care not for your title, I only came for your blessing in going forth into battle against Dycus."

"You must understand Sombra, we are without a leader in the Empire right now. You need to take our Princess's place if you wish to end the war. Else the fight might be held unaccountable in our books and to those around us."

Blowing air out of his nose in frustration, Sombra spoke once again. "You and your customs. It is because of those very customs that you have come this far into being annihilated."

"We are offering you something no pony else could even wish of having!" A mare from the council shouted. "You should be grateful!"

"Hush now." The main council leader said, quieting the riot about to ensue."Please Sombra. Humor us one last time. You do not have to stay Prince if you do not want to, but you must win this war as the true leader of the Crystal Empire."

"Fine. But if we have to make sure this is for political purposes, make me King then."

Again the council erupted into chatter, some claiming he was asking for too much. Most simply accusing him of taking advantage of the situation. None had good to say about his request, but again the only one who actually put some thought into what Sombra asked was the head pony.

"And why, pray tell, do you wish to be King instead of Prince?"

"Dycus is the King of the Changelings. If you need me to be Crystal Royalty to make this fight valid, make me of the same rank. No pony will be able to deny the outcome after that." Sombra said with a stoic expression. Something he hadn't had for a very long time. To be exact, not since he came under Diane's care. He didn't need to hold a facade while she was around, but now that he lost her. Now that he was once again pushed into battle, it was dire for him to have his guard up.

"I see your point. So be it." The stallion said as he walked towards Sombra, crown in hooves. "From today forward you shall be King Sombra, Ruler of the Crystal Empire."

"Until this war is over." Sombra interjected, expressing his lack of care towards his title. Together they made their way out into the balcony of the castle. Waiting for them were thousands of ponies all anxiously waiting for the decision that had been made. As Sombra stared down into the the crowd of ponies the council pony walked behind him, and holding the crown high above he spoke.

"All hail King Sombra." He said as he gently placed the crown upon Sombra's head. At once all the ponies down below began to cheer in happiness. Their new King, he was their only hope of winning, of surviving.


The group of ponies had finally made it to the bottom floor. The dark corridor that had led down had finally come to the end when the final flame ignited the floor where every pony's reflection stared back at them. They were all quiet though they had many things to say or ask.

"It is your turn Princess." Sombra said as he reached the single door on the small area that they had stepped onto.

"Why me?" Celestia asked as she stepped forward.

"I suppose it does not have to be you. Just any pony who can use light based magic. Dark magic is futile on it this door. It will cause you to see your worst fear come to life."

"Why though?"

"I...had my reasons for placing the Crystal Heart behind this door, hidden away from any and every
pony trying to get it."

"Even you?" Applejack asked.

"Even me."

The room grew quiet as tension began to build inside of him. Pinkie took a few steps forward to get to Sombra's side, though it did little to console him, memories began to plague him as he went into a blank and dull expression. He was brought back when he felt a tug at his coat. Turning to see Pinkie, he cracked a small half smile that signaled Celestia to proceed.

Celestia's horn began to glow as she sent a bright bolt of energy to the top of the door, quickly opening it as they were showered in a white light. Walking though the door, they were greeted by more stairs which cause many of them to sigh in disbelief.

"More!?" Rarity asked out, already exhausted from the climb down.

With a chuckle, Sombra began to make his way up. "Do you know how hard it is to hide a secret passage way in a castle? I only had the floor below the throne room and the walls around it to work with. How else would I keep the only way to the tower a secret?"

"Wait wait wait! Are you saying we not only have to go up all the way back to the throne room's level, but more past it?!"

"About three times more." Sombra said with a grin. "Hurry now, we've little time to waste. Any further questions regarding our destination would be directed at Celestia. After all, she hid the vase we're looking for there."

At once Princess Celestia was met with many looks of annoyed ponies as she felt herself shrink from the atmosphere around her. With an embarrassed laugh, she took a few steps forward and cleared her throat.

"Yes well, come now every pony, we've no time to waste!"


"Here for revenge?" The tall Changeling asked out as he gazed down Sombra who stood unwavering despite their prolonged battle.

The ground around them was battered and with many craters they had created from their blasts of magic. Around them hid many other Changelings that were spectating the fight, much too scared to join in and simply allowing their King to finish the fight.

"We've been fighting for over an hour and only now you wish to exchange words?" Sombra asked out as his purple flames waved in the wind, gently followed the motions of the breeze.

"I did not think you would live this long."

"Nor I you."

"You still haven't answered my question."

"Revenge would not solve anything Dycus." Sombra said as he ran towards the Changeling, erecting a pillar to propel himself up towards his hovering foe.

"You say that, but all I see is hatred in your eyes!" Dycus shouted as he dodged out of the way and began to counter attack.

"That's just my magic seeping out." Sombra replied as he erected a pillar of dark crystal to maneuver around, allowing him to move out of the way and avoid the volley of magical blasts aimed at him.

Sombra wasn't lying about fighting to simply end the war, but Dycus was right. Deep down, all he wanted was to get back at Dycus for the murder of his family. He was angry, and the fear that the changelings around them were feeding him was only making him more confident in his actions, leaving him vulnerable to the corruption he wasn't even aware off slowly taking over.

"If all you want is revenge, you could just come back later to kill Chrysalis. I sent out my dear Queen to scout out more food, after all, once we're through feeding on your precious Crystal Empire we'll need another supply."

"You dare toss your bride around like a trading token?" Sombra growled as he and Dycus continued to shoot at one another, gracefully dodging and weaving out of harms way.

"Oh please, we changelings aren't capable of love. We are King and Queen simply because we are the two strongest among all Changelings. I care not for what happens to her, no pony in our hive cares if we lose one Royal."

"Not even if that Royal is you?" Sombra asked out as he and Dycus began to elevate high up into the hive, the center of attention for all changelings to see.

"Not even if it's me. Now!" The Changeling King shouted as he and Sombra reached the dead center of their enclosed battle ground. All at once, every changeling sent out their most powerful magical bolt of green energy at the Kings fighting. They were surrounded, and there was no way of dodging this assault.

Both of them took the full force of the attack, causing a massive explosion at the center. Being the only one without wings, Sombra was falling down towards the stone ground. His eyes barely open, he managed to get a glance of Dycus grinning as he struggled to stay in the air.

With a loud bang, the dark stallion hit the ground as dust and debris was thrown all around. Small green lights lit up the cavern hive as all the Changelings prepared yet another assault, all as Dycus's grin became a chuckle, a laugh that brought chills down every pony's spin. His voice echoing in the hive in a cold and brutal tone.

"I commend you in your efforts. Had it been a one on one fight, you probably would have beaten me. Hell, had it been a five hundred on one fight you might have still won. But when you deal with a Changeling, you deal with all of us. Now....every pony, attack." He commanded his legion. Again all the changelings shot out a bolt of energy that illuminated the dark surrounding.

Using all of his strength to get to his hooves, Sombra's mind raced as he thought of possible ways to get out of this, hopefully even survive. He was still inexperienced with his new dark powers, but they hard served him well thus far, why not place his trust in them one last time? In a loud grunt, Sombra used the last of his energy to conjure out a crystal wall, one that was hopefully strong enough to endure the incoming blast.

Shutting his eyes as he strained his magical power, the ground beneath him shook as crystal sprouted out to form a shield around him. A red color began to shine out from the usual black crystal as the wall was just barely raised in time to block the attack. To every pony's surprise, it did not just block, it reflected. All the magic that had been sent to Sombra was now being redirected upwards towards Dycus. Already having trouble just staying off the ground, he was not able to avoid the concentrated beam of magic.

A loud aching scream of pain echoed in the hive as Dycus' body began to fall down. Sombra's red crystal retracted into the ground as he was once again out into the open, the magic that had summoned the red crystal now made it's way to Sombra where it traced his body under his ripped cape where a cutie mark appeared, one of a red crystal separating into three.

Though he felt drained and tired, he did not need his magic anymore. Laying in front of him was the limp body of his opponent. All was silent. Slowly, Sombra walked up to the Changeling's body and with his magic lifted him off the ground and held it above his head.

"I am King Sombra, Ruler of the Crystal Empire. I have proven to you all that your King is no match to me, so you all are no match against my Empire!" Sombra shouted out as he turned all around, speaking to all the changelings in the hive. "I will give you all one chance, leave now or face the wrath of the King of the Frozen North!"


Finally the group made it to the top of the stairs. Those without wings fell to the ground exhausted from their climb up.

"Next time...Make a rest stop somewhere near the middle, those flight of stairs were simply dreadful!" Rarity complained from the spot on the ground she was on.

"Was it really that bad?" Fluttershy asked as she flew down next to her friend.

"It's easy for you to say, you have wings!" Applejack replied as she too tried her best to catch her breath.

"I do not know why you all wanted to come along." Sombra said as he walked up the the center piece of the chamber they had entered.

"We did not want to leave you alone." Pinkie replied to his rhetorical question.

"Yes, besides, it seems you wouldn't have been able to open the door to get here on your own anyway." Cadence said with a smile, trying to crack a joke to lighten every pony's mood.

"What's in the blasted thing anyway?" Rainbow Dash asked as she circled around the small vase in the altar.

"It contains Sombra's dark magic, the one I took from him when we first found him. We took his magic before sending him to Ponyville to be reformed. It was the only way to make sure he did not go haywire while he was being reformed." Celestial said as she too took a few steps close, though only as far as Sombra was willing to go. "Though when I offered it back to Sombra at the Gala he deemed it necessary to lock it up. I believed it was more corrupting than any other dark magic."

"In truth, it wasn't because it had corruptible properties. This is the dark magic of when I was known as the King Sombra, The Tyrant of the Crystal Empire. Right now the memories I hold of when I was a Tyrant are vague and blurry. Even in that state I can tell I did horrible things. I did not wish to get this magic back because with it, I will be flooded with the recollection of all the bad deeds I performed as a Tyrant." He said as he stepped closer once more, this time not stopping until he was face to face with the small black vase.

"'ll be forced to relive everything you did as a Tyrant?" Pinkie asked out from her laying position on the floor.


"Thou would put thyself though such a horrible ordeal? To relive the mistakes thou regrets so much?" Luna asked.

"Luna, you are willing to become Nightmare Moon in order to fight Twilight Sparkle. Remembering a few bad memories is nothing compared to that."

"Still, it will be pretty hard on you. What if while you recall all your bad deeds, you fall to corruption once again?" Cadence asked.

With a small glance at Pinkie, Sombra let out a soft sigh followed by a smile. "You need not worry. I will not be persuaded to bring harm to those I care about so easily. Though I do ask something of you."

"And what is that dear?" The white mare asked.

"Please wait outside."

"What!?" Every pony shouted out.

"We did not climb all the way up here just to go back down!" Applejack shouted her discontent.

"Pipe down every pony!" Rainbow began. "Now lets all beat it before we get in the way."

All were quiet and shocked as the one pony who seemed to had been against Sombra was now following his instruction without complaint. The glances at her quickly let Rainbow know why every pony was confused, and with a puff of air out of her snout, she answered the unvoiced questions.

"I said I would trust Sombra unconditionally, because he said that if we placed our faith in him he would bring Twilight back." She said as she looked back at the dark stallion who, though still facing away form them, gave them a soft look. "So let's all go before we cause the guy any more problems. He's probably just embarrassed about crying in front of mares or something."

With small giggles, the mares began to make their way out, leaving a smiling stallion. Though he too was surprised at the drastic change of heart, he was grateful. Not willing to have that trust go to waste, Sombra quickly looked back at vase he was standing in front of.

"Just you and me now it seems." He said before gently nudging the vase over. Falling and breaking on the crystal ground, a large amount of darkness began to consume the chamber. Surrounded in a cloud of spiraling smoke, Sombra looked up at the eye of the dark storm. His eyes igniting in flames, he grunted as he slowly began to drain all the dark magic from his dark past.

Small tears began to trickle down his face as what was once vague, was now vivid in his mind. And what was worse, was that the first memory to come to him was not of him acting as a Tyrant, but rather, the moment he held the lifeless body of Diane and her colt in his arms. The remembrance of the promise he made to her, that he would bring a better life to the Empire. The promise he broke.

"I am so sorry Diane...."

45. Fall of a King, Rise of a Tyrant

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With a joyful hymn, Agatha moved through the corridors of the the Crystal Castle. It was a daily routine that she had grown to love. As the adviser to the King, she had gone up from being just a librarian, and though she loved working in her precious library, she also loved seeing Sombra each day to see how he was doing.

On her head she carried a tray decorated with a homemade breakfast, no doubt the benevolent king had nothing to eat before getting to work. Reaching her destination, the old librarian couldn't help but smile as she took a deep breath. Turning around and opening the door with her back, she quickly made her way through to see exactly what she expected to see.

The room was in darkness, only a dim candle illuminated the place. On his desk Sombra sat as he read through some documents. The curtains were shut, leaving the whole area in an unnatural black cloak, though it was almost second nature for the King to bathe himself in such an atmosphere.

"No sleep again last night?" Agatha asked as she made her way to his desk. Without lifting his eyes from the papers in front of him, Sombra responded as he flinched at the sun when Agatha pulled the curtains to the side.

"I'll get some sleep when I'm done with these treaties." He said as he levitated the glass of juice his friend has brought in. Taking a sip, he finally put the papers down and organized them.

"You say that, but as soon as something else comes up you'll have your mind set on it and go another night without rest."

"I promised Diane-"

"That you would give the Crystal Empire a better life. I know, there isn't a day that goes by that you don't remind us all about that." Agatha said with a smile. Quickly taking the documents before he had a chance to stand up. "I'll take care of this, don't worry."

"Thank you." Sombra said, a little relieved about finally having a moment of peace. Looking at the tray on his desk, his mouth began to salivate from his lack of nourishment. Clearing this throat in order to keep his composure, he began to eat.

"I know you mean the Empire well, but we don't want to lose our King to starvation or exhaustion. Why don't you take a day off?" She asked as she began to make her way out.

"You'll lose a King alright. I am only doing this so I can resign from my position with a peace of mind that the Empire won't crumble without me."

"Yet another thing a day doesn't go by that you don't say." Agatha said with a wink before leaving the room.

Sombra couldn't help but show a little emotion in his smile. It has been a few months as his term as King began, a term without any real end. The council ponies had left a certain loophole to their proposal that he had missed. They had said he would stay king until the Crystal Empire did not need one anymore. In short, it means that he can't resign until there was no problems left in the Empire for him to resolve. But with the war and the construction, things were always in need of him, that's without mentioning the day to day problems that arise.

"What a headache." Sombra said as he slumped on his desk. His meal done, and his body tired, he allowed himself some much needed sleep. A soft sigh escaped him as he drifted off into slumber and though he himself was peaceful, the darkness around him was not. As if something was stalking him from the shadows, a low hiss was heard getting ever closer and closer though only staying in the dark, the light from the window keeping him 'safe' from them.

A loud knock at his door jolted King Sombra awake. Shaking his head to get himself fully awake, Sombra made his way to the door where the noise was coming from.

"King Sombra." A guard said as the door swung open. "You are needed by the barracks, we have word that some pony spotted a Changeling!"

With a quick glance to his window, Sombra realized that he hadn't had more than a few minutes a sleep. With a weary sigh, he looked at the guard. "Take me to them."


"I swear, I saw it right over there!" A guard shouted out, pointing his hoof to a corner on an alley. Wearily, Sombra made his way to the spot and began to look around. He sniffed the air and with a calm voice responded.

"There was no changeling here."

"H-How do you know? He could have just run off we need to-"

"There was no changeling here." Sombra said again, this time more bold and loud. "I spent most of my life in the Crystal Empire sniffing out changelings, I've done battle with thousands upon thousands of changelings, do you really think I don't know when there has been a changeling around?"

The guard shrank in front of the tall stallion now staring down at him. His eyes cold and leering over his very soul. All were quiet, not really wanting to dispute him on the matter, not that he was wrong. Sombra had in fact done as he said, and he had never been wrong when it came to these things.

"I'm sorry. I was out of line."

"I'm glad you came to your senses. Now back to your posts!" Sombra shouted as he began to make his way out, many guards began to surround the one cowering in fear, though every pony thought Sombra was justified in what he did, a wave of guilt went over him when a spark of flame was ignited by the soldier's fear of him.

"Why did I lash out like that?" He asked himself as he walked. "Maybe I'm just tired...Been working myself too much. Perhaps Agatha was right..."

So lost in thought he was, Sombra did not notice a child come to him. Only when he was toe to toe with him did he realize there was some pony around. Blinking repeatedly as he was brought back to reality, Sombra looked down at the small colt.

"King Sombra?" The colt asked out.

"Yes child. Is something the matter?"

"I just wanted to thank you. You managed to convince the council to help rebuild my house, the one that was destroyed during an attack."

Remembering what the kid was referring to, Sombra nodded. "Yes, the council didn't think we could spare the funds, but I made them see the light. They know that as King, what I say goes." Sombra said once again, beginning to walk off again.

"Yeah!" The colt said as he began to follow him. "I was there when you screamed out to them. It was funny, though a little scary."

"That's good."

"Why is that good?"

"Fear gives me power. You want a strong king do you not?"

"So we should be afraid of you?"

Sombra suddenly realized what it was that he had said, looking down at the confused colt, he took a moment to gather his thoughts. "No no, of course not. I am simply saying that...well...sometimes I need to exert my command to get things working. And sometimes that ends up feeding me some energy to use. No pony should fear me, I am here to help, I always will be."


Again Sombra was caught off guard. Why did he say 'always'? Since the very beginning he had had the mind set of resigning as soon as he could. He couldn't possibly be saying he wanted to rule for all of eternity now did he? Thoughts began to cloud his mind, he was contradicting himself left and right. It was truly frustrating for him.

"Yes, I will help whenever I can, King or not."

"But I like you as king."

"But I won't always be king!" Sombra shouted, though he did not realize he had raised his voice until he once again felt his eyes flicker in a small flame. Slowly backing away, the colt looked afraid as the shouted scared him.

"I...I have to go." The king said before walking off in a hasty manner. He quickly made his way back to his castle. The castle, it wasn't his, it was just a temporary place of living. Right?

Pushing all his thoughts, questions, and doubts into the back of his head, he rushed over to his office, being careful to avoid every pony on the way. He did not want to speak with any pony, he didn't want to shout and scare some pony again. Quickly going into his office and shutting the door behind him, Sombra found himself alone in the dark recess of his room.

"What is happening to me?" He asked himself, shocked by his actions, but perhaps what shocked him most, was hearing an answer.

"You're taking charge." A voice called out from behind him. Quickly jumping to face him, he was in awe to see another stallion that looked exactly like him. "I am taking charge."

"Who are you?" Sombra asked out, not really in the mood for games. There was no scent of a changeling, so unless they found a way around the smell they give off, what was in front of him was real, but that couldn't be.

"I am you, King Sombra."

"No, you're not. I am King Sombra."

"We look alike, sound alike, even call ourselves by the same name. Using simple logic any pony would say we are the same pony, no?"

"There can't be two versions of the same stallion. One of us is the fake, and it clearly isn't me."

"There isn't a 'fake', we are the same stallion." His double said. Sombra was even more baffled than before, but suddenly something clicked in his head. Something that added some clarity to the situation.

"I'm hallucinating..." Sombra said. "I haven't slept in days. This must just be hallucinations."

"Very astute. By logic alone, that makes sense too, doesn't it?"

"Why are you saying it like that?"

"Like how?"

"Like if it was debatable."

"Because you yourself aren't sure. By default, I am not either. After all, I am you."

"Stop saying that!" Sombra shouted out. "We are not the same!"

"And why do you keep saying that?" The other Sombra asked out. The answer was suddenly stuck at Sombra's throat. Truth be told, the Sombra standing in front of him looked....terrifying. They couldn't be the same, if they were, that meant that he too looked terrifying. "This is rather pretty." The doppelganger said as he walked over to his desk, reaching for a small red crystal.

Quickly Sombra conjured a crystal spear our of the ground, keeping him from touching the crystal on his desk. Though the other was shocked at first, his calm demeanor returned when he looked back at the panting dark stallion.

"Why the aggression?" He asked almost sarcastically. "Your answer of whether I am real or not could have been answered in an instant based on whether I had been able to touch an object or not." He said with a grin. "Or are you perhaps so afraid that I might be real that you'd rather not know?"

"Silence." Sombra said he tried to stand up tall, but he was dizzy and tired. His sleep deprivation was starting to take effect on him. "You will not touch my anchor."

"Your anchor? And what, pray tell, is that?" He asked, a grin still on his face, a grin that only annoyed Sombra more and more.

"I look at it every morning to remind myself of the promise I made to Diane. If you were me, you would have known that."

"Are you trying to prove I don't exist?" The Sombra said as he banished from side, as if becoming smoke his image slowly faded away. "But I am very much real. I live in you, I am you."

"Enough!" Again Sombra shouted, his temper past its end. Completely throwing away his stoic persona, Sombra looked around the room in an angry fashion, searching for the impostor. A cold chuckle was heard from behind the door, and at once Sombra bashed through, breaking it apart as if it was nothing more than glass. Once outside he again looked around only to run towards another laugh's origin.

As he ran through his the castle, he found himself running along side some windows. Though he did not take notice at the time, it was night time. Something was was strange considering that it really hadn't been that long since he had returned to his office. It wasn't like he cared at the moment. In a nightmarish rage, he ran and ran, continuing to look for the other Sombra. Passing a corridor, he glanced and saw something that looked like him. Not thinking twice, he shot a bolt of energy towards the figure.

In a loud crack, the figure was down, though Sombra was not yet satisfied. Walking over to it to 'finish the job', he was disappointed to see it had only been a painting of himself. A portrait that had been done not too long ago.

"Are you alright? You don't seem like yourself." The voice called out from the dark. Forgetting about the painting Sombra once again began to gallop further into the castle, only to come face to face with a room decorated with more portraits of him.

Panting, Sombra took a few cautious steps in as he searched around the room.

"Still think I'm a fake?" A figure in a painting asked. At once Sombra shot it down.

"I should really watch my temper, I don't want to frighten my subjects." Again it was shot down.

"Or do I? I mean, fear does give me power, and I need power to do a good job as king. Surely I can take a few steps to insure I do a good job in the role I play here." Again, shot.

Sombra, the real Sombra, was panicked and paranoid. His eyes were wide open and filled with hate towards...himself. The mocking laugh of his portraits did not help in the matter. Using all of his power, Sombra summoned spear after spear of crystal to destroy the laughing images of himself.

The room held no more portraits, but the laughing persisted. After all, there were other paintings elsewhere in the castle. The laughing only echoed louder and louder within his head, making it hard to even hear his own thoughts. In an aching scream, Sombra ran. He ran and ran. To each and every room in the castle, looking and destroying any and all portraits he had of himself. Each one he found was laughing, was mocking him. Was...scaring him.

Was that really him? Was he really mad? He didn't know. He didn't want to know. All he wanted was for the nightmare to end. For the laughing to stop, and for everything to go back to how they used to be.

Finally the evil laughs had come to an end after Sombra skewered the last painting. Tired- no, exhausted, he slowly made his way back to his office. Back to that red crystal that he had come to cherish so. But as he passed over the broken door to the room, he was frozen in place. The red crystal was gone.

No pony had been here, no pony except himself and...the doppelganger. That meant...that meant that he had indeed touched it. And that he was indeed real. So...was everything he said true? Was he really him? Was he really that terrifying stallion?

Brought to his knees, Sombra was lost in words. He didn't know what to do, what to say. He tried to speak but nothing came out. Nothing but tears. What was going on? A question that plagued his mind over and over again. A question he didn't have an answer to.

His heart ached. He couldn't explain it, but as he once again opened his mouth, a scream of horror and pain escaped him. It was as if that scream has been trying to get out for a long time, and now that it did, it was so loud, so powerful, so heart felt, that every pony in the Crystal Kingdom heard.

Sombra didn't care. He didn't care about anything right now. What he wanted as that red crystal, so without hesitation he forced out his dark magic. His eyes in a purple blaze he began to conjure out his infamous red crystal. He didn't shape it in any particular way, but rather let it roam and grow freely in the room. Soon the entire place was covered in red crystal, every inch of the floor, and every wall, and every corner. All in red, all in a natural spiky formation.

Now that he laid in this room, his reflections stared back at him. He expected them to laugh, or perhaps have a few words to say. But rather than that, they did nothing. They just stared back at him. Quiet. So very quiet.


"Sombra?" A voice called out. "Sombra!?"

Slowly the King began to open his eyes, gently lifting his head from the cold crystal ground he had used as a bed.

"Sombra, what happened?!" Agatha asked out as she came to his side.

Sombra had heard her, but the words had not really registered in his mind. Instead, he was more focused on the beautiful red crystals that rested all around him. They shined and sparkled so graciously. It was a spectacle to behold, it was hypnotizing almost.

"Sombra? Are you alright?" Again she asked out, trying to shake him of his daze.


"Oh thank goodness, what happened, we all heard a scream, I thought-" Agatha's sentence was interrupted when Sombra placed a hoof to her mouth, telling her to be silent.

Without breaking his focus on the red crystal, a twisted smile spread across his face. A smile that terrified her. His voice was slow and cold. It was as if his tone had drastically changed as the crystal surrounding added a disturbing echo to it.

"I like these crystals. Open mines. I want more."


Years went on. At first Sombra's requests were strange, but doable. Ponies would excuse his actions, stating that he deserved a little freedom and some selfish requests since he had done so much for the Crystal Empire. But over time, it became very apparent that Sombra was no longer thinking about the Empire. All he wanted was power to take on any fight on his own, and crystal to relish in when he returned from said battle.

Though he still held a conscious for a while. For a while Sombra pondered on destroying the Crystal Heart, doing so would cause the Crystal Ponies to writhe in fear, a fear that would surely feed him power. He refused, however, to do so. It was far too much of a sacrifice, but somewhere deep within him he knew that the day would come where he might act upon this desire. Taking the right steps to prevent this, he made a secret passage where he hid away the Crystal Heart. Locking it behind a door bind by light magic, a magic that he did not posses. It was safe from his hooves...for now.

To take his mind off the heart he demanded more and more crystals, the precious crystals that he though so beautiful and grand. He didn't care who opposed him in his quest, they were all shackled and thrown into the mines. A fate that soon every pony faced. His terror soon spread as he began to expand his empire farther out to mine even more.

The word of Sombra's reign soon reached the ears of those in Canterlot, and with it, the ears of the Royal Sisters. They who had brought harmony to the land by defeating Discord, took it upon themselves to bring Sombra's Tyrannical rule to an end. Armed and prepared for war, Celestia and Luna marched their army to the Crystal Empire where they faced off against Sombra.

They had expected to face an army, but instead they found just one pony. One very powerful Unicorn. His power had grown exponentially since his rule had begun, and now had no problem at all tearing apart the Royal Army single hoofenly. The sisters soon realized that they needed to fight him head on. And so they did, armed with the Elements of Harmony, they charged forth to defeat him.

"Kneel!" Celestia shouted as she flew straight for Sombra who chuckled at her. Throwing himself with a crystal pillar, he dodged her with plenty of time to spare. Luna also tried to attack, but her attack too was futile on him.

"You call yourselves Goddesses? Ha! I could take you on with my eyes closed. Perhaps I should change my name to Sombra, God of All." He joked. Though they knew he was just taunting them, they felt like he wasn't lying. For a whole day cycle Both Luna and Celestia had tried to defeat him, and all day he managed to fight back, both of them. No doubt had it been a one on one, Sombra would have won.

"Hold thy tongue!" Luna shouted as she sent out a beam of her night magic. An attack that was reflected when Sombra shielded himself with his red crystal.

Celestia tackled her own sister to get her out of harms way, a pattern that had repeated many times already, and also a role she herself was caught in as well. Sombra had an impenetrable defense. What he could not dodge, he would block with crystal, what could not be blocked was reflected. It was impossible to even land an attack on him.

"Enough Luna, let us use the Elements." Celestia said as she helped her sister to her hooves.

"We should not. Lest we have a clear shot, our opponent will evade." Luna responded over the laugh of Sombra who was staring down at them from a pillar way up high.

"Sombra seems sure of himself, I am willing to bet that he will take the attack head on hoping that his red crystal will be able to reflect it."

"And if it does?"

"The power of Harmony is the strongest in all of Equestria. If his red crystal is stronger, than we did not have a chance to begin with."

Looking up at Sombra, the beaten and bruised sister held a face of determinations as they took flight. Taking out their Elements, they prepared to attack.

"Again? When will you learn that I am more powerful?" Sombra asked, sure of himself.

The sister took no mind to his taunting. Instead they came close as the Elements of Harmony began to spin around them. Their eyes glowing white, a rainbow slowly formed around them before beaming up and slowly arcing down towards Sombra.

Sombra still smiled as his eyes bursted into flames. His red eyes irises faded into the green of his eyes as darkness surged out of him. In a shout he sent out an attack of his own that clashed against the rainbow beam. The two blasts struggled to push the other back.

The struggled persisted for a while, and soon Luna and Celestia began to doubt in their strength. A seed of doubt that sparked fear in their hearts, fear that fed Sombra's power. In a chilling laugh, Sombra pushed all of his strength into the blast, soon beginning to overpower the strength of Harmony.

Though something strange happened. From the light the rainbow beam was creating came a whisper. It was hard to hear, but it managed to catch Sombra's ear. mustn't...

The soft voice said, and soon Sombra lost his momentum.

"Diane?" He asked out, completly shutting off his magic, and began to be covered in the burning light of the sister's attack. He was still conscious, he was still able to fight back, but as he struggled to bring out his magic once more, again the whisper entered his head.

You can't win this fight, if you do you will doom all of Equestria, you know that don't you?

Diane's voice said.

"Diane!?" Sombra asked out, his memories of her beginning to flood his mind. "Diane, I- you." He said, but not able to put a sentence together. Then suddenly he remembered his promise. His promise to bring a better life to the Crystal Empire. Slowly looking over at his empire, he saw it dark and broken. He saw it battered and in desolation. That promise had had made, had been broken long ago. With an expression of disgust of himself on his face, Sombra allowed himself to be pushed down into the ground, into the icy ground where the intensity of the Harmonic blast began to bury him.

"I am so sorry Diane..." He said as he reached out to the empire. "I....I need to fix this..."

In one last attempt to pull himself out, to try to reach for the empire, his dark magic began to consume it. Slowly banishing it along with himself. Buried deep into the frozen ground. And there they would rest for a thousand years. There they would lay in waiting until one day, the empire was called back out by a force of nature, and with it, the Tyrant Unicorn King of the Frozen North.


Sombra began to open his eyes a a light ray shined over them. Coming to his hooves, he looked around to find himself on top of the Crystal Castle. It was sunrise, and with it came the last few hours before Twilight's attack on Equestia. An attack that he was now able to defend against. Lifting his hoof, he saw darkness spark out from him, the darkness that at one point was able to fight off the Elements of Harmony now flowed inside him.

Behind him laid the broken glass of the vase in which this power was hidden away. It was small, but it created a reflection of Sombra. He didn't notice, but that small reflection held a sickening smile. The same smile that the Tyrant of the Crystal Empire once held.

Somewhere in the back of his head Sombra knew that the other 'him' was there, stalking him, leering at him and waiting for the chance to attack.

"Things are different this time." Sombra said out loud. "I will not waver. Real or not, I will not lose to you. This time, I fight to protect Equestria, to protect those I care about. This time, I am Sombra, The Reformed."

The smiling reflection began to fade away, leaving Sombra behind. Placing a hoof at the edge of the window frame, he jumped. There was much to do, and he did not have time to take the stairs. It was time to make his entrance. It was time to prepare for war.

46. Darkness Comes

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Day had arrived, and with it, so did a new form of despair. Word had gone around about Twilight's eminent attack, causing many to lose heart, especially those of Ponyville and Canterlot. Oddly enough, the Crystal Ponies seemed strangely cheery for such dire circumstances. Their coats shined bright and their faces held smiles. The reason as to why, however, was nowhere to be seen...well, almost no where.

"Every pony seems awfully happy." Spike said from Shining Armor's back. They were currently making their way to the refugee camp, but had decided to pass by the market streets of the Crystal Empire on the way.

"Yeah, but I'm not complaining. Makes keeping peace much easier for me." Shining replied, a goofy grin upon his face as he waved hello to a by passer. Jumping off his ride, Spike walked over to one of the vendors and bought what he needed, a few supplies they were bringing to the camp.

"Excuse me, but how come you all are going about like nothing is wrong?" Spike asked the vendor as he purchased a few edibles, no doubt to bring to those who had not had a chance to eat yet at the camp.

"What do you mean?" The Crystal pony asked.

"Things are pretty bad with know." He said, not really willing to finish his sentence. It was something he had struggled to believe, but even less say himself as a fact. His Twilight had gone mad, gone into insanity and was doing horrible, terrible things.

"Yeah, I heard about Princess Twilight. But King Sombra is on the case, no?"

"King?" Shinning asked out with a nervous laugh.

"Oh, I mean, Sombra, The Reformed. We all heard about how he is back to his normal self. The Sombra who rescued us from the pit of despair all those years ago is back, that means everything will be okay."

"You sure have a lot of trust in Sombra huh?"

"Oh course! He is...good at making things better for every pony. Since he said he'll fix everything, we've nothing to worry about." The vendor finished as she noticed another costumer coming to the stand. With a swift goodbye, the attention was taken away from the drake and stallion, and now where left to their own thoughts.

"Wow, Sombra seems to have a way of making others believe in him huh?" The drake asked as he climbed back onto Shining's back.

"You mean like with Rainbow?"

"Yeah, one minute she's all angry with Sombra, the next she has complete trust in him."

"I think that's just Rainbow Dash." The white stallions said with a laugh. "From what Twily told me, she can be pretty stubborn when she wants to. I think she always believed in Sombra but couldn't bring herself to admit it."

"Eeyup." A deep voice said from beside them.

"Big Mac!" Shinning called out as he greeted his friend, an appearance he wasn't prepared for. "I didn't know you were here, Applejack said you went to Appleloosa."

"Ah had to make sure mah family made the trip over. Just got here." The red stallion said as he gestured behind him. A long line of family members walking, all tired from their trip. Breaburn, the one leading them, nodded in acknowledgement as he passed. Many others followed behind him and did the same.

"Woah...." Spike said in awe, a little overwhelmed by all the Apples who were walking by. "Did you walk all the way here?"


"Why didn't you take the train!?"

"We all wouldn't fit in one train and we weren't about to leave an Apple behind. We all agreed on making the trip on hoof instead of risking losing one."

"Now that is commendable." Shining said with a smile. "The Apple family seem to be very united."

"Eeyup." Big Mac proclaimed, his usual phrase now with a hint of pride in it. "So, how long we gonna stay here?" He asked as he and the other two began to join the herd, all of them on their way to the refugee camp. The purple dragon once again climbed onto the white stallion's back as he spoke.

"What do you mean?"

"Ah mean, how long til it's safe to go home?"

"But you just got here. Don't you want to at least rest up before you say you're home sick?" Shining teased.

"Well...pardon me if Ah'm rude or somethin', but Ah don't want to be away from my apple orchard for very long. This here place is nice and all, but we Apples belong on our farms."

With a soft smile Shining looked over to the castle that poked into the sky. "Don't you worry. Sombra and the girls have a plan. Last night Cadence told me that our good friend is taking in some of his old magic. He and Luna are going to fight Twilight head on and get her back to normal."

"How exactly?"

"Uh..." He replied, some sweat falling down his forehead. "The details escaped me, though I'm sure they know what their doing."

"I don't care what they do, I just want old Twilight back." Spike said, the green scales on the side of his head slumped down.

"Don't you worry Spike, once we find Twilight we will-"

"Ooomf!" A cry was heard as something heavy landed on the ground near them. Every pony looked over to find a rather strange sight. Before them laid an odd mix of different animal parts, all torn about and twisted. Slowly beginning to put themselves together, the familiar face of Discord soon appeared. "Hello every pony...I found Twilight." He said as he lifted a claw to talk.


"Like I was saying." The Lord of Chaos said as his arm was being bandaged by Fluttershy, his body barely being able to be held together. "Twilight Sparkle had spent her time in an old cave just outside of Equestria. I found her as soon as she began to use dark magic. She sure knows how to wreck havoc I'll give her that." He said, oblivious to his arm falling off as he spoke. The mares around him all gasped, but without a word the limb floated back up to it's place where it struggled to stay.

"So why didn't you tell us as soon as you found her?" Celestia asked out.

"I was on a recon mission my dear, I couldn't just leave. I poked around for a while, trying to find out what she was up to, but I was found."

"What happened then?"

"Well..." Discord said as he moved around his now bandaged extremity. "Twilight began to question how it was that all my body parts were put together...and proceeded with several experiments in order to find out." He said with a cringe. "Not fun, I'll tell you that much."

"Sounds like you've been through Tartarous." Sombra said as he walked into the chamber. Every pony was surprised and happy to see him, with a quick greet from every pony, he nodded in acknowledgement, though he was more interested in Discord's story.

"I've been to Tartarous, it's a much more pleasant stay I assure you." The draconequus said in a joke.

"So why did Sparkle let you go?"

"She didn't, I escaped."

"I do not mean to be rude, but I doubt you did. Sparkle is too cunning, and with her dark magic putting an emphasis on making sure she has everything figured out, I don't think she left any doors open for you."

"What are you trying to say?" Celestia asked.

"I mean to say, she was through waiting. I knew she wouldn't last those three days like she said. Her thirst for knowledge wouldn't allow her to stay still. I am willing to bet that once she got bored with you Discord, she let you get away as a sign to us that she is on her way." Sombra said, quickly drawing conclusions from what he knew. Those around him certainly seemed to agree.

"That doesn't leave us with much time to prepare."

"Prepare for what exactly?" Shining asked. "I mean, I know I wasn't in the room when all this went down last night, but as far as I know, Sombra and Luna are going to fight Twily alone. It doesn't exactly leave very much for us to do."

"That is where you're wrong." Sombra interjected. "Like when I attacked the Crystal Empire, a dark fog will begin to spread over Equestria. While we are away, you all have to keeps the hopes of the citizens of Equestria high."

"Why though? Ah mean, Twilight won't even make it to the Empire will she?" Applejack asked out this time.

"No, but as an Alicorn, she is now much more potent in her magical abilities. No doubt she can drain dark magic even when she isn't present."

"Can you do that?" Pinkie asked.


Silence. For the first time, Sombra had admitted that he could not do something and that wasn't exactly something they wanted to hear from the stallion who had proclaimed himself able to do anything the night prior. It certainly created a strange tension in the air.

"Celestia, make Sombra and Alicorn so he can do it like Twilight." Pinkie said, finally speaking out. Her words caused a few to giggle.

"While you're at it, me too!" Shining shouted, this time even more began to laugh, brining his smile to that of a nervous one. "No, I'm serious. My wife and sister are Alicorns, you guys have any idea how hard it is." He said, trying to get some sympathy, but with all the giggling going around, none heard.

"Yes well, let's talk after you return okay Sombra?" Celestia said with a wink. The atmosphere around them was clear again, allowing them to get to business. Falling into his old customs, Sombra began to give out orders. Even though several ponies out ranked him, they all simply nodded in agreement. He was in charge, this was his plan, and that in it of itself brought an easing feeling to them all.

"There is strength in numbers. The more ponies around, the more powerful they will feel."

"So we should bring all the refugees and citizens in one place?"

"Yes, but be careful. A large crowd is also easily influenced by a single variable. That means that if one begins to get scared, they all will."

"It's like follow the leader right?" Shining asked as he leaned over to see the plans his friend was making.

"Exactly. You all have to make sure nothing gets them riled up. If they begin to fall into their own fear Luna and I will be outmatched by Sparkle."

"That reminds Us." Luna said. "We are still not very sure how thine plan of fighting as Nightmare Moon will play out. Thou said We would have dark magic at Our disposal, but We still do not know how to use said magic."

"You don't have to. Sparkle will no doubt have memorized my fighting patterns. Using regular dark magic tactics would be falling into a trap. Dark magic is very powerful, simply use it as an alternative to your usual magic. It will add a boost, and if you need extra help, I think I can still erect a pillar of two from with in your subconscious."


"I have never done this."

"And you're just gonna place the fate of Equestria on a bet?"

"I've placed my faith in things with lower chances of success. Do not worry, everything will be fine." Sombra said, trying to reassure. them.

"And you think we can do all of this in a few hours?" Cadence asked as she looked down at the map Sombra had scribbled out. It held all sorts of details on where to place what. Who should stand where, and what should be said. Awfully detailed for something he had only had a couple of hours to come up with.

"Yes, though I will need you all to be ready in less than one hour."


"Luna and I must leave at once, Sparkle is making her way here, and the closer she gets, the more magic she has. We shall leave when the Crystal Empire is as I described." He said, again pointing out the paper he wrote.

"Aye aye." Many said, already on their way out to get things done. Pinkie, who was smiling from ear to ear, was also about to leave to do what needed to be done, but was stopped when she felt something pull on her pink coat.

"Got a minute?" Sombra asked softly after getting Pinkie's attention. His gentle voice was strange, but with a faint blush and a small nod, the mare answered.



Sombra led the pink mare up into the castle. It was a short walk from the chamber they were in to the balcony, but it had felt like an endless hike since no word was spoken on the way. Things were still a little awkward, having not really talked since the pep talk Pinkie had given him, Sombra had dozens of things to say, but didn't know how to say them exactly. Reaching the balcony's edge, Sombra sighed as he tried to gather his thoughts.

"Everything okay?" Pinkie asked.

Sombra opened his mouth to speak, but then decided against it. Instead he held out his hoof, gesturing her to hold a moment. Reaching into the drape of his clothing he searched around his many pockets. Finding what he was looking for, he came close to Pinkie and reached for her hoof. Extending it out in between them, he places something small in it. The pink mare takes a moment to look at it and her eyes open wide.

"Wow, this is a very pretty ruby." She said as she gazed upon the small stone.

"It was suppose to be Fetch's birthday present before he...passed away." Sombra said. "It is something very important to me, something I hold very dear."

"I see." Pinkie said as she held the ruby up, the sun's light shined through it, causing it to sparkle in a beautifully. "So is this your new anchor?"

"Not exactly." He replied, coming in a little bit closer. "It is just something I care about. And I want you to have it."

"What?!" She asked, suddenly looking back at the tall stallion. "But you said it's very dear to you."

"It is. And I want you to take care of it."

"What? No, I can't" She said as she tried to give the ruby back, only to have her hooves pushed back to her, a small struggle that ceased when Sombra began to hold her hooves tightly in his.

"I want you to keep it...until I get back. Okay?" He said, not really sure as how he wanted to phrase his sentence.

"But why?"

"Just...humor me, please?" Sombra asked, his eyes begging her to comply. Like the ruby Pinkie was holding in her hooves, his red eyes shined to her, called for her to look deeply into them.

"Okay... but only until you get back right?"

"I promise, once I get back, I'll get my ruby back."

"Pinkie Promise?"

A chuckle escaped the stallion as he saw the mare in front of him gesturing out the promise she was known for. Sitting down and mimicking her actions, Sombra spoke the words she mouthed.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." He said in a soft voice. A smile spread across both their faces as they began to laugh out. It was rather silly for them to be doing such a thing at a time like this, but it was definitely something they needed. A break from all the high tension that was building within them.

"Now..." Sombra said as he leaned close and wrapped his arms around Pinkie in a hug. His sudden action causing her to get flustered. "I must go. I am sure Shining and Macintosh are eager to tell me they are done." He said as he gestured over to the stallions waiting behind them.

Releasing his embrace, Sombra waved bye as he began to walk back into the castle. Not stopping when he reached his friends, they began to follow him as grins appeared on their faces.

"Getting pretty close to Pinkie huh?" Shining asked out in a tease, though the answer he got was not the one he expected.

"Yes. Pinkie means a lot to me." He said as he finally came to a stop. "Shining Armor, Macingtosh Apple." Sombra said as he turned around in a rather formal manner.

"Uhh, yeah?" They asked, a little thrown off by his sudden attitude.

"While I'm gone...will you take care of Pinkie Pie for me?" Sombra asked out. His voice gentle in tone, but bold in volume.

"Of course, nothing will happen to her while we're around, ain't that right Big Mac?"

"Eeyup." They answer back, though Sombra continued his tall stance and high head for a while longer before sighing. Turning on his heels, he began to walk off again. His friends stood still as their minds were plagued with worry.

"Hey Big Mac?"


"Is it just me...or did Sombra have the eyes of a soldier going into a battle he's going to die in?"

"Eeyup." He responded quietly.


"Everything is ready." Celestia said as she and the others came to see Sombra and Luna off. Standing at the edge of the Crystal Empire, the Sun Goddess and the others stood in the grass of the Empire while Sombra and Luna stood off into the dirt where the border ended.

"Good. Just follow my instructions and everything will be fine." Sombra said as he turned around to walk away but not without sparing a glance at the crowd who gathered to see him off. The mares from Ponyville of course, but also Shining and Big Mac, friends he made on his own. Agatha, who has been there since the very beginning, and even some Crystal Ponies. The sight of all of them gave him a feeling of purpose. A feeling that he was indeed doing the right thing. With one last glance over at Pinkie who waved bye with a cheerful smile he was off.

"Art thou alright Sombra?" Luna asked as she began to walk beside him.

"Yes..." He said with his head down. Taking a moment to breath in deeply, he began to gallop out as fast as he could. "Come now Luna, we need not waste any time."

"At once." Luna said as she took flight, quickly keeping up with him. As she looked over Sombra, she noticed quick a few things that were odd, mainly the fact that he was running almost as he needed to run. Run away from those he was leaving behind.

"Is there something the matter?" She asked.


"Thou art a horrible liar."

"Have I lost my touch then?" He asked, still avoiding the question.

"Yes. Thou hath been very particular with thy word choice. Never once did thou say we would return with Twilight safely. All thou ever responds with is, 'Everything will be back to how it was before I arrived'. Doth thou wish to explain thyself?"

"No...but I suppose I have no choice do I?" Sombra said as he ran. The strain on his body was oddly relieving. His muscles were begging for something to do, and this was just what they needed...before the time came to lose this freedom. "Once you fight Twilight, your goal will be to break her spirit. Win, and win without letting her stand back up when she is knocked down. You have to break her will so I may observe her magic."

"And what will thou do with all that dark magic? Surely even thou would fall to corruption with such an intense amount of dark magic."

"Yes, even me."

"Then what will thou do?"

"I will not be returning...Once I have all the dark magic within Twilight Sparkle, I will once again banish myself and the magic to the depths of the earth where I will fight it for the thousand years this world wants of darkness."

"Art thou even listening to thyself?!" Luna shouted as she flew in close to the running stallion. "Thou wishes to spend a thousand years in combat?...trapped in the ground?!"

"The world wanted to bring darkness into Equestria, and so darkness it shall have, deep within itself. The darkness will be present, and I will fight it. I will fight it until every inch of my dark being is spent, and in turn, no harm will come to Equestria."

"Thou would really put thyself though such an ordeal? Year after year of combat?"

"I will do anything and everything to keep those I care about safe. Even if I will have to take on a few more scars. Even if I have to fight until the end of time. This is a fight worth fighting for."

"Thou means, worth dying for, for that is what thou art trying to do, find thy own death in the earth."

"Call it what you wish Luna, this is the only way of saving Equestria and Sparkle. I made a promise, a promise I plan to keep."

"What of Pinkie Pie then?" Luna asked. "Thou performed a 'Pinkie Promise' did thou not?"

"I did. And I will take back that ruby...whenever I return to the Crystal Empire, if I return to the Crystal Empire." Sombra said as he looked off into the distance. They had made quite long trip since they had left the Empire. Up ahead was a thick black cloud, no doubt Twilight's work. "Now...let us share our power so you may become Nightmare Moon once more." He said as he jumped, quickly changing his physical form to that of smoke.

"Yes..." Luna said halfheartedly. "Let us finish this battle."

Moving towards the flying mare, the dark fog began to engulf the Moon Goddess. Being absorbed into her body, the features of the mare began to change ever so slightly. Her coat became darker and her pupils thinned. Her eyes sparked out purple flames as her wings began reshape with fire like feathers. Her slippers became longer boots and her breast plate extended. Luna was once more Nightmare Moon, but it was more than that. She was Nightmare Moon, Princess of the Pitch Black Night.

47. Equestria's Burdens

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A strange feeling traversed all of Luna's body. It was a feeling of power, dangerous power that seemed to consume her entire being. Her wings flapped only once as that alone would push her forward several meters. It was as if everything around her was fragile compared to her. The ground beneath her, the mountain sides, and even the wind around her as she glided through the air, they all seemed small and insignificant.

"This may be too much..." She said to herself, taking a moment to look over herself. She was indeed not her usual self. Her darker color scheme was the first thing she noticed, after that is was her royal accessories. She felt like Nightmare Moon once more, she was Nightmare Moon once more.

Watch yourself. A voice echoed in her head.

"Sombra?" She asked as she got ever closer to the large black fog in front of her.

Yes, it is me. Sombra's voice said in her head once again. Along with his voice, there were a few other sounds. Loud screeches and grunts were heard, causing some concern for the dark princess.

"What is that sound?" She asked as her body now pushed into the fog, slowing her flying speed as she entered.


A ghastly being surfaced from a dark void only to be pierced by a black crystal spike. As it began to disappear, Sombra's hoof came to the spot where it had come from.

"It's the sound of you keeping your sanity." He said as he looked around. At the moment he stood in what seemed to be pure darkness. Though it wasn't that it was 'dark', it was simply empty, otherwise he would not be able to see himself so clearly. No doubt that this strange void from where he stood was the Princess's subconscious. "Just now you thought about how powerful you are, no? Having trouble keeping yourself from seeing how strong you or on the fragile landscape around you?"

How doth thou know that?

"That creature I just attacked, that was what it was muttering." He responded as another ghastly being came into existence. Slowly it raised an arm from the ground, struggling to rip itself out from the void of Luna's mind.

"This power is unreal..." It said as it stood up. With a calm demeanor, Sombra once again erected a spike that impaled the creature through, making it burst into nothingness. With a gruff, Sombra looked up into the void and spoke to his 'prison'.

"It seems these things don't stay 'dead'. They'll only sprout out again after I kill them. But do not worry, I will not let their thoughts corrupt you."


"Art thou saying thou art fighting Our inner demons?" Luna, or rather, Nightmare Moon asked out as she made her way further into the fog.

Yes, it would seem so.

"Thou shall already be fighting for a thousand years, doth thou think it is proper to begin combat already?"

I'm prepared to fight non-stop for a thousand years Luna, what's a few more hours? Sombra's voiced asked in her head. She understood his point, she wasn't exactly happy about it, though she didn't have much time to worry about it, it seemed she was nearing the eye of hurricane so to speak.

In a sudden burst from the dark clouds, Nightmare Moon ripped through as her elegant body came into view. The sight before her, however, was much less regal. Twilight Sparkle was walking, her hoof steps leaving small black crystals behind as she passed. It was odd, it seemed like she hadn't even noticed her yet.

Sparkle is not yet aware of your presence. Do with that as you wish Luna. Sombra said from within her.

"What?" She whispered back. "We are right above her, surely she hath taken notice."

Right now you have merged with all of my dark magic, that means that you give off the same dark presence the dark fog around here does. You can choose to attack from her blind side, it would served as a great way to make some head way in breaking her spirit.

Taking a few seconds to think about it, Nightmare Moon could feel herself think of all the ways she could take advantage of this particular situation, and as she did, a smile grew on her face. It was an expression that quickly faded when she heard more grunts in her head, more sounds of combat.


Jumping into the 'air', Sombra landed on one of the creatures of the void and attacked it with a magical bolt at point blank range, making it explode immediately and sending him once more into the air. As he swiftly moved his body around, he landed in a crouched position as he avoided an over swing from the monster beside him. His eyes broke out into flames as he skewered it through it's stomach, again it exploded.

Art thou alright? Luna's voice echoed from the void around him.

"Yes, though it seems you are not. Having some trouble picking on how to attack I assume?" He asked as he jumped back to dodge an attack, countering with a sudden leap forward to close the distance and headbutting the creature into the ground where Sombra spun a kick to, sending him flying into the air where it dissipated.

W-What doth thou mean?

"I mean, every time you have a dark thought, another one of these demons pop up. Unless I continuously get rid of them, they will consume you and drive you to madness." Sombra said as he stood up tall. Glancing around him he saw quite a few monsters that were gathering around him. Nothing he couldn't handle of course, but definitely more than he had expected to face this soon.

He readied himself to fight, but just as he reached his stance, the monsters around him began to burst on their own. One by one each one exploded, leaving the void where Sombra was feeling more empty than before. Confused, he looked up at the void again and spoke out.

"Luna? What have you done?"


"Twilight Sparkle, We come to ask you to end this madness. Return to us as thou were before, cast away thy dark magic." Nightmare Moon said as she landed on the ground in front of Twilight. Surprised, the purple princess jumped back as she looked at her 'guest' in the fog.

"N-Nightmare Moon?" Twilight asked out. "Did Luna fall to darkness again? This isn't good, I knew I shouldn't have left Canterlot, no pony can protect it like I can." She, completely ignoring what the dark mare had said.

Care to explain Luna? You had a perfect opportunity to land a preemptive attack on her.

"Yes...but We did not wish to cause you more burdens." She responded quietly, no breaking eye contact with Twilight.


"Twilight Sparkle, it is not Us who hath fallen to darkness. We had been sent to break thee out of thine prison of madness, much like thou hath done for Us once."

The purple mare stood dumbfounded. It wasn't that she didn't hear her, more like she did not understand her. "What are you talking about Nightmare Moon, what sort of trick are you trying to play on me?"

"No trick, We stand before thee to bring thou back home safely."

"Bring me back home?" Twilight asked herself, trying to make sense of the statement. Her eyes opened wide as she began to interpret it in a strange way. "As in...home to the after life? Are you saying you'll kill me?"

"What? No, We-" Nightmare Moon did not have time to explain herself, instead she was met with a barrage of dark bolts.

Throwing herself to the side, the dark mare was able to avoid getting hit by the assault. Taking a short moment to look at where she had stood, no doubt she would have been obliterated had she not managed to avoid the attack. With frown she returned her gaze to the purple mare who held a devilish grin upon her face, a smirk that sent chills down her spine.

"No time for words then?" Nightmare Moon asked as her eyes let out a sparkling flame.

"I'd ask how you obtain your dark magic, but I know it was Sombra. He corrupted you, turned you into Nightmare Moon again and now sent you here to kill me, do his dirty work. No doubt he didn't want me around because I am the only pony who can stop him and whatever he is planning."

"Sombra has done no such thing. Art thou even listening to thyself? No logic is leaving thine mouth."

"Enough, I will not listen to your crazy talk." Twilight shouted as she took to the air. In their constricted space, it was hard to maneuver around the vortex of darkness where they were, so instead of being bound to an arena, Twilight began to use her dark powers.

With a burst of flames from her eyes, the fog around them began to lift and scatter, though not exactly in a natural way. Instead simply dissipating outward, the black smoke began to gather high above them where Twilight had flown. In one mighty yell, she condensed the raw dark fog into a magical sphere that sparked in bright lightning bolts from the intense power within it. With a wicked smirk, Twilight lifted her head and allowed her horn to glow a mixture of purple and black; taking direct control of the sphere. In a furious shout, she threw it down at Nightmare Moon.

Clenching her jaw, the dark alicorn braced herself as she began to cast a spell. Her bright blue night magic began to surround her, a protective shield that she hoped would be enough to save her from harm, after all, the sphere coming down at her was massive, there was no way of simply dodging it. To her own surprise, the magic that she cast, though blue at first, converted into a sickly green and violet shade just as the attack made contact.

A large explosion came from the impact of the orb of magic. Had this battle taken place anywhere else, no doubt it would have done collateral damage on a colossal scale. The ground was all but gone, a large crater in place of where Nightmare Moon stood with nothing but dust and debris now.

"That was easier than I thought." Twilight said from way up high. Slowly she began to descend down the hole she created in the earth, though as soon as she placed her hooves into the dirt, everything turned black. In a panicked reaction she looked all around, finally looking up to see Nightmare Moon flying gracefully over head. Not a scratch on her and her eyes burning in large flames.

"Thou art a fool of thou believes that is all that is needed to kill a goddess." She said as the sun behind her began to lower. Taking it's place was the moon, but unlike the moon that cycles day and night, this one was much larger and more detailed. It was bright, very bright. It's sight alone made Twilight squint as the moon came into the sky behind Nightmare Moon.

"I'll just try harder next time then." Twilight said as she began to take to the sky to match her opponent, but for some reason, she felt heavier than before. Struggling to keep in flight, Nightmare Moon laughed softly to herself.

"Having trouble? Surely thou of all ponies would know what happens when the moon gets closer to the earth."

"Right..." She responded, suddenly understanding what she had done. "You've changed the gravity in Equestria."

"Only slightly, though it seems that alone is enough to cause thee to lose thine flight."

"Nothing I can't get used to in a few minutes." Twilight said as she once again flapped her wings, stabilizing her flying a little bit, though as she focused on that alone, she didn't notice that Nightmare Moon was no longer above her. In a strong kick to Twilight's side, the dark mare launched her downward.

"A few minutes thou doth not possess."

A yelp escaped the purple alicorn as she was hit. Spreading her wings and regaining her balance, she managed to twist her body around as to land on her hooves instead of crashing down.

"We tried to come peacefully, but it seems thou art beyond any reasoning. With a heavy heart We shall go through with the original plan. Prepare thyself, thou shall be broken!"


"What's going on?!" Many ponies shouted out. The sudden shift from day to night had taken many by surprise, most even became frightened by having their sunlight run dry.

"Everything is 'A' okay every pony!" Applejack shouted out as she moved through the crowd she was assigned to.

"Yeah!" Shining shouted along side her. "Remember, it is Princess Luna who is fighting along side Sombra right now. She's the Goddess of the Moon, right? She probably wanted to fight in her own terms, the night is the best way to do that." He said, trying t make every pony feel at ease again. It worked, for the most part at least.

Currently every pony in all of the Crystal Empire were gathered under the castle where the Crystal Heart was located, There were at lot of ponies, so much so that there was no way to make your way through without having to squeeze through tight spaces.

"Think they're doin' alright?" The orange mare asked as she and Shining made their way though the crowd.

"I hope so. Though I have to say, this night is a little...weird."

"How so?"

"Look up, what do you see?"

"Umm." Applejack hummed as she turned her gaze to the sky. "Ah just see the moon, it's real big and bright."

"That's just it, we only see the moon."

"Am Ah suppose to see something else?"

"Yeah, there aren't any stars. Just this bright moon in the darkness of the night. It is...unnerving to say the least. I hope this is just because Sombra is lending his power to Luna and not because something terrible has happened to the night."

"Me too..."


"Raagh!" Twilight roared as she sped through the dark sky. Her eyes in a purple blaze, she sent bolts of dark magic towards the ever agile mare of the night. In a strong flap of her wings, Nightmare Moon manged to changed her position in the air over and over, each time she flapped her wings she managed to dodge an attack from her opponent.

Watch yourself, Sparkle is about to attack from below. Sombra's voice said from her head. Like if he could was able to read Twilight's mind or something similar, a crystal spike erected from the ground and had she not been warned, might have actually damaged her.

"How did thou know that was to happen?" Nightmare Moon asked as she flew around, and began to prepare for another clash with Twilight.

I was able to feel the dark magic gather at ground below you. No doubt Sparkle was trying to attack using my own technique of crystal creation. If we work together like this we can- argh.



Sliding back on the 'ground', Sombra came to a steady stop as she braced himself for the oncoming assault of monsters from all round him. Jumping over a lashing of the creature in front of him, Sombra shot a dark magic bolt that crushed the demon into the ground, though his victory was short lived as another managed to get a hold of him.

"With this power I can crush everything into the ground...nothing can get in my way." The demon said as it began to constrict the dark stallion.

Squinting one eye in pain, Sombra struggled to break free, but the creature proved to be much too strong for that, physically at least. In a savage roar, Sombra's irises faded into the green of his eyes as flames blasted through. A fury of crystal skewers erected from the ground that pierced the creature, making it explode.

In short gasps for air, Sombra looked around as more and more began to crowd around him. Again his flames ran wild as he made the ground glow. All around Sombra black crystal spikes came out, stabbing all of the creatures in the area. A collective shout was heard as they all felt the painful piercing of his dark magic before disappearing into nothingness.

"I'm...fine." he managed to say through his panting.

Thou doth not sound like it.

"Just fighting, I was distracted slightly when I sensed Sparkle's magic about to create crystallized creations." He said as he turned around to see three more demons had pulled themselves from the void. He didn't hesitate. At once he ran to them and began to shoot bolts of magic at them, all landing a deadly hit.

Thou should be more careful.

"You worry about your own fight, I can handle myself." Sombra said as he circled around more newly sprouted demons.


"We could say the same thing..." Nightmare Moon said as she flew around the array of bolts being sent at her. Twilight seemed to have lost her sense of reason, firing aimlessly at her, easy for her to avoid all the attacks.

"Hold still!" Twilight shouted as she came to a higher point in the air. Her irises disappeared as she forced out her magic. In an explosion of flames, she began to focus darkness at her horn, forming a large dark sphere again. Nightmare Moon took notice and stopped flying, instead she allowed her surroundings to grow, the darkness of the night spreading around her, consuming her body.

Twilight sent out her sphere of dark energy again, though as it reached Nightmare Moon, it passed through the darkness as if nothing was there. Confused, the purple mare looked around in confusion.

No sound was heard. Nothing but the slow breathing for Twilight was audible, though those breaths soon became faster and faster as anxiety began to take over. What was once a serious face became one of fright as she found herself alone in this empty space. It was an ominous feeling she could not seem to escape, the darkness around her seemed to creep up ever closer, or was that simply her mind playing tricks on her?

"N-Nightmare Moon!" Twilight shouted out. "Come out! Fight me!"

Nothing. No answer. Had she left? Had she forfeit the match to her? It wasn't clear, but it only made things worse of Twilight. Paranoia hit, she shook her head back and forth, searching for Nightmare Moon. What was worse than anything for her was not knowing, not knowing where her opponent was or if she was there at all.

"Is something the matter?" Nightmare Moon asked from the dark. "Afraid?"

"Me? Never." Twilight answered back, though her actions betrayed her words.

Below Twilight laid only her shadow, a small shadow that she had simply over looked, after all, it had always been there. Always will. Except that this time, her shadow seemed to be a little larger than before. Her body more slender. Her shadow...was Nightmare Moon. From the ground the darkness of the shadow erupted as the mare of night sprung out and dashed at full speed towards Twilight.

Being blind sided, the corrupt mare was left unprepared and was slammed against in midair. Grabbing a hold of her, Nightmare Moon came face to face with Twilight. As their eyes met, both of them felt their flames erupt in a burning blaze. Slowly the two purple flames began to attract one another and lock.

"W-What are you doing?" Twilight asked out as she gazed in fear at Nightmare Moon, or rather, her cold slim eyes.

"Taking what should not have been given to thee in the first place!" She shouted as their magic made a connection.


Sombra, who was still fighting the beasts in Luna's mind, felt a strange disturbance in his being. It was as if his magic was slowly being taken from him. In a loud shout, Sombra made quick work of the demons that remained and impaled each with a crystal spike.

"Luna! Stop at once!" He shouted as he turned to look up. "Her spirit is not yet broken!"


Shutting her eyes and throwing Twilight back, Nightmare Moon flapped her wings as she tried to shake the rather disturbing feeling from her body.

"What happened?" She asked herself, trying to remain stable in flight.

Sparkle began to drain our dark magic instead of the other way around. I told you, you have to break her will, otherwise when the connection is made, the magic will go to her.

" could Twilight Sparkle have a stronger will then Us?"

That mare fought against you, me, Discord, and won. Do not underestimate her.

"What did you do to me?!" Twilight shouted as she too came back to her senses, though her anger soon vanished when she realized a small detail. "Wait...I feel....stronger. Did I get more magic?"

Curses. Attack! We cannot allow her to build up her confidence. Sombra's voice echoed. Without question, Nightmare Moon did as she was told. Charging up her horn with dark magic, the dark mare cast her night magic, magic that was strengthened by Sombra's dark essence.

In a flurry, Twilight did the same, sending an energized bolt of magic. Their magic collided and struggled to overpower one another. For a while they remained at an impasse, neither gaining strength over the other. Taking the chance, Twilight began to gather some magic below them and threw up a crystal spike in Nightmare Moon's direction.

Watch out! Sombra shouted in her head. Though there was little she could do to dodge. The spike was heading towards her at a rapid speed.

In a shocking turn of events, another crystal spike erupted from the ground and clashed with the one Twilight had conjured. Having intercepted the crystal spike, Nightmare Moon spared the few more seconds that the struggle against Twilight had lasted. Having ran out of magic to project at the moment, both of the mares were now free to move.

Looks like I was right after all.


"I still do have control over crystal creations from within your mind." Sombra said he jumped back to avoid an attack from the rather large demon in front of him.

We thank you, though art thou sure thou should be shifting thy focus to my battle instead of thy own? Luna's voice was heard through out the void.

"It's either that or we both die." He responded as he ran up to a demon. Spinning around and kicking him with a hind hoof. Regaining some footing, Sombra railed up a hit with his front hoof that sent the demon flying back from the physical assault, slowly starting to disappear from the strength of the hit.

We're sorry...

"For what?" Sombra asked as he returned to standing on all fores.

For being such a burden on thee.

"You need not apologize. I like being able to help. Now, back to your battle, we shouldn't falter again.

Yes...Let us win this.


"Is everything going to be okay?" A mare asked from the crowd. Many others echoed her feelings as uncertainty began to spread.

"Now now." Rarity said as she walked around the crowd. "Let us not lose faith in Princess Luna and Sombra, okay?"

Though much of the murmuring quiet down, one stallion stepped up to the white mare and began to express his own concern.

"But see here, both Sombra and Luna were evil at one point. What's to stop them from joining Twilight and come here to attack?" He asked. At once every pony around him began to shout out, all very much afraid that perhaps he was right.

"We can't just-" Rarity began, but was not really heard. Her voice has been muffled by the sudden cries and shouts of the ponies in the crowd. "Come now, every pony listen." She tired to speak, though no pony seemed to hear her.

"QUIET!" A loud shout from within the crowd echoed in the area. Every pony was surprised, by it, so much so that it became silent all of a sudden. As ponies began to step away from the one who had screamed, a small filly was revealed. Dinky, who had at one point stood her ground against an angry mob, was once again standing up to speak.

"Mister Sombra has done nothing but save us since he arrived!" She shouted, all those around listening to her. "So why don't you all just man up and wait until he gets back before throwing accusations left and right?"

"Dinky Do is right everypony." Rarity said as she made her way to Dinky. Once in front of her, she nodded in a gentle smile before levitating her and placing her on her back from where she could speak out better.

"All we were told to do is to stay here and keep calm. We're not the ones doing the fighting, we're not the ones risking our lives to save Equestria, so why is everypony finding it so hard to just sit and do nothing?" Dinky shouted, scolding all those around for even thinking badly of Sombra.

"So what? We just twiddle our hooves and wait?" A mare asked.

"Yeah! That's what Mister Sombra asked us to do." Dinky shouted, making the mare that spoke our shrink back into the crowd.

"Yes every pony, why don't we all just sit down. If you all need something to do, why do you not pray?" Rarity asked.


"Yes." The seamstress said as she raised her hoof to the moon in the sky. "Pray to the moon. Send Luna all your prayers. I do that whenever I find myself in a pinch, praying always helps me find my way."

Every pony began to whisper among themselves, but slowly, the voices died down as they all sat down and closed their eyes. Taking Rarity's advice, they each began to whisper small prayers to the moon, it was a rather sweet moment for the unicorns to witness, every pony at peace now that they had a form of outlet for their worries.

"That was very brave of you Dinky." Rarity said as she looked at the filly on her back.

"Mister Sombra would have done the same."

"You really like him don't you?"

"Yeah. He's really nice to me, I hate seeing every pony turn their back on him just cause he made a few mistakes."

"Yeah, me too Dinky. Me too."


In the light of the moon, Twilight flew round rapidly as she and Nightmare Moon exchanged attacks. Each one would dodge the other's as best as they could as they flew around in a spiral. Their grace in the air was as if they were dancing to a deadly rhythm; one wrong step and they would get seriously injured.

The air brushed against their coats as they gained more and more speed, Nightmare Moon was beginning to gain some ground on the fight. Dark magic aside, she had much more experience in combat than Twilight, and those years of experience were finally beginning to show as exhaustion began to take the young alicorn.

Swerving around a mountain side, the two of them their broke line of sight for the first time in a while as they each made their way around the mountain on opposite sides. As they began to come back together, Twilight was surprised to see that Nightmare Moon was no longer racing against her. She was no where to be found.

"What?" She asked as she came to a stop, though her moment of confusion was interrupted by the sudden burst of the mountain side. From the stone Nightmare Moon emerged as she attacked Twilight by digging her way through the mountain to gain the element of surprise.

As the dark mare was preparing to land a deadly attack on Twilight, she paused as a voice echoed through her head.

Please let everything be alright....

The sudden sound of the voice caused her to give Twilight a large enough window to escape from the hold and fly to a safe distance.

"Argh...Sombra, was it thou who spoke?" Nightmare Moon asked as she took a moment to shake away the nauseating feeling.

I haven't said a word...I have my own, argh, problems at the moment.


Again Sombra was caught in the hands of a demon who tried to crush him. Though he wished to use his magic like last time, he had come to find that he had been using his dark magic perhaps much too freely. With the realization of having to spend a thousand years with a limited amount of magic, he was now restraining himself as best he could from using it.

"These demons are popping up more and more... you have some pretty dark thoughts, you know that?" Sombra said as he tried to lighten the mood, though it was hard to do so when he felt his bones begin to crack.

In a swing of his hind legs, the dark stallion managed to land a swift kick on the demon to make him let go, and with his freedom back, was able to jump to safety. He once again found himself surrounded by the creatures of the void, finding that he had no choice, he charged up his dark magic and sent a barrage of crystal spears at the demons, destroying them all at once.

I could have sworn that I heard a voice... Luna's voice echoed.

"That must have been my fault. Perhaps I allowed too many to build up and their voices bled to your ears. I'll make sure to get rid of them more quickly." He said as he noticed another figure begin to rise from the void. Sombra ran as he prepared to attack it, but as he got closer, he realized that it wasn't what he had expected to see. Instead of the regular monster he was used to seeing, what stood in front of him was a silhouette of a stallion.

....Please let everything be alright... It said softly.

Sombra was confused, who was this stallion, and how did he find his way into Luna's subconscious. Though his train of thought was interrupted as he heard Luna grunt in pain.

"Luna? Are you alright?"

Y-Yes. We simply got sloppy with our combat. The voices are getting rather...loud.

"Voices?" He questioned as he looked around the void. "But their aren't any demons here..."

As if his voice triggered a spell, dozens of ponies suddenly rose from the ground, all silhouettes as they all murmured to themselves.

Please let Princess Luna and Sombra to return safely.

I pray that we can all go home soon.

Help my mother, she is the most panicked and I fear she might lose herself soon.
I haven't eaten in days, please let me find something to eat soon.

Make the day come back soon please.
Princess Luna, please return to us with safety.

Help Luna and Sombra bring Princess Twilight back

Their voices, though soft at first, began to resonate louder and louder within the void. Sombra struggled to hear past them, he almost didn't hear that a monster came up behind him, but as he jumped out of the way, he bumped into one of the ponies, causing him to lose his balance.

"Luna, what's going on?" He asked as he tried to regain his footing, something very difficult to do when there was a new pony to pop up every second. Now he not only had the demons to worry about, but these ponies to watch out for.


"It would seem that ponies are praying to Us...." Nightmare Moon said as she flew out of the way of an attack. As she began to counter the assault, the sudden crying of an echo in her hear caused her to jolt her head sideways, misfiring her bolt of magic.

"What's wrong Nightmare Moon? Too old to keep up with me?" Twilight taunted as the attack passed right by her.

"Thou art lucky handicapped." She said as she returned to normal, at least for a while. No doubt a new voice would be heard in her head soon.

You can hear the prayers of those in Equestria?

"Yes, though We've never had this many is overwhelming." She said as she once again began to fly rapidly around Twilight who did her best to keep up.

Can't you cut them off? Sombra asked.

"We could...if We lower the moon. That is the only link they have to Us, but doing so would cause all of the darkness around Us to disappear, and We find it rather useful at the moment." Nightmare Moon said as she and Twilight began to direct themselves into a head on collision.

Before they could actually make contact, however, Nightmare Moon dissipated into the darkness, completely invisible to Twilight. Feeling as if she had flown right through her opponent, the young alicorn came to a stop as she looked around only to get attacked from behind.

After the small tackle that had sent Twilight flying down, the dark mare sent out a few bolts of dark magic her way. As she fired, she once again heard voiced in her head, blurring her vision and making many of her attacks to miss her target.

This is getting rather difficult...

"You don't say..." She responded, though now, there seemed to be a disturbing echo to Nightmare Moon's voice, it was her voice back when she was possessed by the shades of the moon, the same voice she had when she had fallen into darkness.


Running and jumping over the ponies taking up room in the void, Sombra was no longer concerned about his magic levels. Instead he was impaling any and every demon he saw as soon as he made them out from the crowd now around him. He didn't harm any of the silhouettes for fear that it may do something to the pony who was praying, but that meant that everything was much different.

Sombra was galloping as fast as he could to try to get to every inch of the void and kill as many demons as he could find, but a sudden mistake took place. He found himself propelling himself off one of the creatures instead of a pony, that mistake caused him his momentum and a rib.

In a sudden roar of pain, Sombra found himself flying through the air as one of the larger creatures managed to land an upper cut on his underbelly while he was over head. Though he did his best to recover and land on his hooves, he felt another hit from behind him. Sombra was out numbered, and having to look twice to make sure he wasn't hurting any pony certainly wasn't making it any easier.

S-Sombra... Luna's voice echoed.

"What's wrong Luna?"

We...We are starting to feel strange. I am starting to feel strange... She spoke again, only know she wasn't using the royal 'we'. It was clear, she was starting to lose herself, was starting to become corrupt by all the dark magic inside her, all of the dark magic Sombra had brought in with him.

"Curses!" Sombra screamed as he impaled a demon and as he was about to attack another, he had to force himself to a stop when he realized it was a mare. "I can barely tell these damn things apart!"

The dark stallion suddenly felt a large blow at his side that once again sent him though the air. As if the demons were now working together, another large creature caught him and slammed him down. He let out a yell as he felt the pain though his body, though it wasn't satisfied with that alone. The demon began to punch downward over and over as it crushed Sombra under it's large fists. Many other demons began to gather around as they all began to pile on top of one another. Sombra had no way to escape, even as he tried to conjure up his magic, a sudden jolt of pain made him lose his concentration. Reaching out with his hoof into the void was all he could do...he was trapped....done for.

Suddenly, he felt a pull on his hoof.


Pinkie gasped as she felt her body tremble. A sense of dread fell over here as something dark began to take hold of her heart. Clenching the ruby Sombra had given her, she turned her gaze to the outskirts of the Empire. To the darkness around her. Slowly she began to make through the crowd of ponies, leaving her designated area.

All around her ponies were sitting down quietly praying. The gesture had spread to all the sections of the Empire now, and every pony was now casting up their fears and doubts to the moon.

"Sombra?" She asked out as she walked, her eyes began to tear up, though she wasn't sure as to why. She continued to walk and stumbled into Shining Armor and Applejack's area whom took quick notice of her.

"Hey Pinkie!" Applejack shouted as she moved closer. "What are ya doing here? Did somethin' happen?"

"I-I don't know." Pinkie answered, though a little vague with her statement.


"I have to go! Sombra needs me!" She shouted as she began to run. Pushing ponies out of her way, Pinkie ran as fast as she could, she ran towards the darkness, to where Sombra and Luna had gone.

"Hey!" The orange mare called out. "What's gotten into that girl?! Drat, what if something happened. I need to go tell the others."




All his pain was now gone. Sombra now stood alone once more in a void, only this time it was a white void. There was no sound, there was no smell, it was empty, yet the feeling that was coursing though his body was one of peace and tranquility. Looking around, he found that he wasn't alone after all. He saw something...some pony.

"Diane?" He asked out to the blue mare in front of him. She stood quiet as she looked over him from head to hoof. Quietly making her way to him, she circled around him to get a better look at him.

"My, you're different." She said with a giggle. Her voice was sweet, it was gentle, and it sent chills down Sombra's spine.

"This...isn't a dream, is it?" He asked out, afraid to hear the answer.

As if Diane knew he didn't want to hear the truth, she slowly shook her head. They remained silent for a while as the news began to sink in.

"Then that means...I failed." He said as he looked down. "I let all of Equestria down..."

"Sombra..." Diane spoke out, reaching out and placing a hoof on his shoulder. Her touch shocked him, it sent him into an array of emotions, feelings that hadn't arisen in a long time. For so long Sombra had wished he would talk to her and now that he had that chance, he couldn't find the right words.

"Diane I-" He began as he turned around to face her. "I, I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry about what happened." He said as tears began to build up at his eyes. His chest felt heavy as he struggled to speak. This was much more difficult than he thought it would ever be, speaking to her again.

"'ve apologized enough don't you think?" Diane said as she came close to lift his head.

"I can never apologize enough Diane. I did horrible things to the Crystal Empire, I broke the promise I made to you." He said as he looked into Diane's eyes. Her sapphire eyes, the eyes he had never forgotten.

"The promise you made to me? What does that have to do with anything?" She asked, almost laughing at the subject.

"I had promised to give the Crystal Empire a better life, and instead I became a Tyrant that ruined it. Crushed it all beneath my hooves."

"Oh Sombra." She said with a smile. "Even when I was saying my last words you didn't listen to me. You never change."

"What?" He asked, a little confused by what she was saying.

"I didn't ask you to give the Empire a better life. I asked you to find a better life in the Empire." Diane said with a gentle smile. "For years all you could ever think about was war. About how to keep others safe. You never once took a day off, you never once had fun. It was all work work work with you. I wanted you to find a better life for yourself. I wanted you to find some happiness."

"A better life for me?..."

"Mhm." She nodded with a grin on her face. "And I've been watching over you. I think you've gotten quite a nice life going for you right now don't you? Mister 'Sombra, The Reformed'." Diane said with a wink. As she called him by his knew title, he blushed slightly.

"Yes, well, it seems none of that matters now, does it?" Sombra said as she took a step back. "I can't do anything now."


Pinkie's voice echoed in the white void, quickly making Sombra perk up his ears and look around.

"Now now, that doesn't sound like the Sombra I know." Diane spoke as she began to lead him down somewhere. Though it was unclear as to where. All there was around them was nothingness for miles and miles.

"I am dead Diane, I can't do anything."

"Says the stallion who jumped at the voice of the one he loved." She teased with a wink.

"That's not!...entirely...false..." Sombra said with an embarrassed expression, causing Diane to giggle.

"The Sombra I know would lash against fate. He would scream out, 'I will take every pony's burdens upon myself'. Or am I wrong?"

"Last time I did that I became a Tyrant."

"Last time you did that you also escaped death...twice. Sombra, I don't know how you do it, but you are always pull through. You've had enough loss for a thousand life times, but you still persevere. You're strong."

"But I'm also the cause for a lot of death and loss. I can't live with myself if I am the cause of another tragedy."

"And staying here will help with that?" She said as she came to a stop. Looking down into the white void, an image began to show. Twilight and Nightmare Moon were fighting one another, though now the latter was losing...bad.

"She can't win without you." Diane said as she pointed at the dark mare. "Right now she's fighting all the madness in her head, but that doesn't let her focus on the fight."

"I can't do anything to help." Sombra said with a sadden look.

"Not from here you can't"

"What are you saying?"


Pinkie's voice echoed again,though much more clearly now.

"I'm saying, you can't die just yet Sombra." Diane said with a smile. "I've been watching over you, for a very long time. I know you can do this."



Again, even louder. Pinkie's voice made Sombra feel like she was right beside him. It was as her voice was calling him back, dragging him back. The void of white began to fade out black as Diane gave on last smile to Sombra. She began to wave bye as she spoke.

"I'm glad I was able to speak to you one last time. Go, do you're best, and remember. I'm proud of you. Of everything you are. Don't forget that no matter what, you'll always be the hero in my time of need, just as now you're the hero every pony else needs at this moment."


"Go you big lug!" She shouted as her image began to fade out, a few tears running down her face. "It isn't polite to keep a mare waiting, you know."




A sudden wave of pain surged through Sombra as he was brought back to the hell hole underneath all the demons of the void.

"No...I won't die here!" Sombra shouted as his eyes began to burn in flames. "Diane is right...I'll happily take on every pony's fears and doubts!" He shouted. Around him, the silhouettes of the ponies who were praying began to glow before igniting in purple flames. Flames that began to make their way to the dog pile.

"All of it! I'll take on all of Equestria's burdens, I'll carry them all on my back!" He shouted from under the demons. Light began to shine through the small cracks the demons began to develop.

A vortex began to surround Sombra as he was beginning to drain in everything. The prayers of ponies and even the corruption thoughts of Luna. All of it was to be Sombra's power, his strength form which he would build up Equestria once more.


"You're through Nightmare Moon!" Twilight shouted as she began to charge up another sphere of dark energy. The killing blow on the dark mare who was too beaten to move. "Take this!"

The large orb of power began to make it's way to Nightmare Moon who had no choice but to look upon her own death. The attack hit and a blinding light began to illuminate the area. The large moon that had governed the heavens up to this point began to descend. As it died, Twilight's laugh echoed in the distance.

"A little early to sing victory hymns Sparkle." Sombra's voice said from the cloud of the debris.

"What!?" Twilight shouted out, his voice shocking her. "You're here Sombra!?"

"Yes." He said as the sound of flames began to fill the atmosphere. The burning sound of a blaze in full throttle, the great purple flame of fear. Taking a step out from the smoke, Sombra stood tall as his new form was in display.

His eyes were exerting a massive amount of fire, so much so that it spread to his horn, consuming much of his face in what seemed like a mask. His green eyes peered from the fire in an ominous stare. Having taken the full blast of Twilight's attack, his clothing had been destroyed, but he showed little damage, if any. Instead, his grey coat was in out along with each hoof set ablaze in the same flame his eyes were casting. His mane waved up like if it was a lit candle. His cutiemark, while the red crystal was still present, now held a background of a spiraling purple fire.

His presence alone was enough to scare Twilight, that was apparent, but it didn't seem to stop her.

"I-I- It's about time you showed up!" She shouted, trying to hide her frightened side. "I was getting bored of fighting Nightmare Moon."

"You mean Luna? The mare trying to bring you back to the Equestria through peaceful means until you attacked?" He asked as he gestured behind him. Luna was once again herself, though unconscious.

"Don't give me that! She was trying to kill me, just like you are now!"

"I haven't made a move of aggression Sparkle."

"But I know you are, I can see it in your eyes!"

"No, what you see in my eyes is the reflection of your own fear. The fear you caused."

"Shut up!" Twilight said as she darted down at Sombra. She made some simple calculations and found she had one advantage, her wings. She was to use them to keep him from getting close to her, she would have a chance then to win.

Though as she flew, Sombra simply disappeared. No trace of him what so ever.

"What? Where'd you go!?" Twilight shouted as she came to a stop.

"I'm right here." Sombra said from behind her. His voice caused her to push herself away only to see he was standing on a crystal pillar.

"W-When did you summon that!?"

Again, he was gone. He simply disappeared like he was a flame that had been blown out.

"Have you noticed?" He asked, again he was suddenly standing on another pillar, this time directly under Twilight. "It's still dark despite Luna's moon having been lowered. He said as he raised his head to look at Twilight.

"S-So what!?" She asked as she once again pulled herself back, though this time she sent out a volley of magical bolts at him. He didn't move. He didn't even flinch. Instead he stayed still and allowed the attacks to connect.

"This darkness isn't caused by the night Sparkle." He voice spoke, again he suddenly appeared behind Twilight. "This darkness is coming from me."

All was gone, or rather, everything suddenly became engulfed in darkness. Twilight found herself lighting up the dark with her horn, a small light the did little to brighten her surroundings. Suddenly she felt the ground touch her hooves, without realizing she had slowed her wings and had descended all the way down.

Her breathing began to gain pace as she found herself lost in the dark. She was in nothingness. She was alone. She was scared. A sizzling sound started to echo as Twilight's flames began to mix with tears she didn't know she was crying.

"C-Come out!" She shouted as she began to walk backwards, but suddenly froze when she felt herself bump into something.

"I haven't left Sparkle." Sombra said as he looked down at the mare who backed into him.

Twilight tried to talk, she wanted to speak, say something, but her words were stuck at her throat. The fear she was experiencing was overwhelming and left her frozen. What was worse for her was Sombra's lack of interest in her fright. This was all something he was used to. This darkness, this lonesome darkness was his. If he could create this, he was some sort of monster, he was something truly terrifying.

Finally gaining control of her body again, Twilight jumped away and faced the burning stallion. "D-Don't just stand there! Fight me!" She shouted.

"Again with this? Do you really want me fight you? Do you really want me to completely slaughter you?" He asked as he took a step forward. All around them red crystals began to sprout. They grew around them in a natural flow, taking odd shapes and spiraling around freely.


"Liar." Sombra said as he came face to face with her. She couldn't move, couldn't speak, and her tears would not stop from flowing out. The darkness around her was overpowering. It was clear this was his domain, and she wasn't welcomed.

Her eyes, though they were still burning in purple flames, were close to going out. As he came close to her, they began to spark out again as they became attracted to his down flames.

"No...don't take my magic..." Twilight managed to whisper out in a choking voice.

"Forgive me Sparkle, but this was never yours to begin with. The fears of those in Equestria are mine to carry for them. Mine alone."

Feeling her entire being start to be pulled out of her, Twilight was helpless to Sombra's power. She was much too afraid to do anything and so she laid witness to the draining of her dark magic.

All at once the darkness disappeared as Twilight fell to the ground. She was out of dark magic to use. All of it was gone, even the magic that the contract had given her. She was no longer a being of darkness, that title was left solely to Sombra. Taking a few steps to get a good look at the mare in front of him, he noticed something else entirely.

The red crystal he had conjured had grown immensely. Mirrors upon mirrors were made by those crystals, mirrors that reflected a stallion on fire, a smile that stretched in an evil grin. The same stallion that once took over the Crystal Empire as a Tyrant. His mind felt empty, his thoughts like a faraway echo. It was the same strange feeling he felt last time he lost control to the dark influences of his magic...

"Sombra!" A voice called to him. Slowly turned to see who it was, the dark stallion was surprised to see Pinkie and many others behind her. All his friends, all of the ones he cared about, though his stoic expression remained even after seeing them.

"Are you okay!?" Pinkie asked out as she came to a stop when she saw Twilight on the ground.

"What happened?" Shining asked as he too came to Twilight's side. "You didn't-"

"No look! She's still breathing!" Pinkie shouted in happiness. "That means you did it!" She said as she directed her eyes at him. She took a few steps forward but was suddenly stopped when a crystal spike erected in from of her. Shocked, he looked to Sombra for an answer.

He didn't return Pinkie's gaze, instead it went to Celestia who was busy trying to get Luna back on her hooves.

"Royal Sisters..." Sombra said in a dead pan voice. "Strike me down."


"Why!?" Rarity shouted out as she came to the front, though she received no answer, only painful grunts as Sombra backed away.

"Now!" He shouted out. "Kill me now or you'll have an even worse threat than Sparkle ever was! I've...argh! drained too much dark magic. I can feel myself slip away from sanity. Kill me now!"

"You've got to be kidding!" Rainbow spoke out as she tried to come close, though she took was stopped by a crystal pillar. Every pony was quiet, all that was heard was Sombra grunting as he struggled to keep himself sane.

"Now!" He shouted once more.

"" Pinkie said as she began to walk forward. Again she was met with a crystal pillar to stop her, though that did little. She continued to walk. This time a spike was erected, stopping from impaling her only centimeters away from her.

"I don't want to hurt you Pinkie!" Sombra shouted.

"Then don't!" She said as she finally ran to Sombra, tackling him in an embrace that pushed him back slightly. "You don't have to hurt any pony!"

"Get fool!" Sombra yelled out as his flames began to combust further. The heat they gave off began to burn at Pinkie, but she held on through the pain.

Sombra looked down and saw Pinkie's expression of pain and it caused his heart to sink. Doing his best to pull back his purple fire, he shouted as the strain showed in his eyes. Ever so slightly the fire began to shrink until it was all pulled back into him.

"Get back....while I can hold it in..." Sombra pleaded. He didn't want to hurt her anymore than he already did.

"I won't! I told you that no matter what I would be by your side!" Pinkie said as she pressed her muzzle into the curve of his neck, her arms wrapping firmly around him. "No matter what, I'll stay right here."

"I could hurt you...."

"I don't care."

"I could kill you."

"I know you wont." Pinkie said as she pulled back her head, looking in his strained expression. "I trust in you, I know you won't kill any pony anymore. You said you wouldn't, remember?"


"Shut up." Pinkie said softly as she leaned up to him, softly pressing her lips against his. Sombra's expression seemed to soften as he felt her soft lips make contact with him. His eyes became gentle as he slowly closed them. He raised his hooves and wrapped them around her back. They remained locked in their kiss for a while before finally breaking apart and staring into each other's eyes.

"Let's go home, okay?" She asked with a soft smile.


48. Era of the Dark Magic Crisis

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"How are you feeling?" Pinkie asked as she and Sombra walked beside each other. It had been only a few short weeks since his little fight with Twilight, and things had gone back to how they were...for the most part. After their battle the young alicorn was taken in for medical care along with Luna.

Sombra, on the other hoof, lagged behind in the Crystal Empire where he helped stabilize things again. Pinkie, of course stayed with him, partly because the love they held for one another was no secret, and partly because every time she wasn't by his side, Sombra would begin to slip into madness.

"I'm doing fine Pinkie, really, you worry too much." Sombra said with a chuckle. He now had a complete replicate of his brown and red outfit that Rarity has generously remade for him, this time she made it fire proof for his...episodes of random combustion when his flames got out of control.

"Uh huh, you've come close to collapsing twice since you've gotten back."

"I lost my balance for a few seconds."

"You must be pretty clumsy to lose your balance while standing and giving out orders."

"Maybe I am." He said with a smile.

Pinkie returned the gesture. She was happy to see Sombra show more emotion than before. He says that it's because she's around, but the truth is that the stoic persona that he had was simply not needed anymore. He wasn't afraid to come off as weak, not that any pony thought he was. He was simply more at ease around other ponies.

In front of them was a hospital, the Red Health Hospital to be exact. It was the best medical facility in all of Canterlot and they were on their way to visit a certain mare. The same mare that nearly killed Luna, Discord, and Sombra all in the same day. Twilight had finally woken up from her unconscious state after the battle. Many thought that she had entered a coma, but Sombra said that it was simply because he had drained all of her dark magic, every drop of it.

When she made the contract with the Tome of Las Artes Oscuras she had bonded her very being to darkness. Having that stripped of her was a severed shock to her system, sending her into a deep sleep while she recovered. Just this morning Sombra and the remaining Elements of Harmony received word that she had regained consciousness.

The hospital now into full view, Sombra stopped at the road that led to the entrance. A little confused about why he had stopped, Pinkie poked her head to the side to look at him. With a strangely stoic expression, he looked back as he suddenly became unsure as to whether he wanted to go in or not.

"What's wrong?"

"Technically speaking, I'm the pony responsible for putting her in the hospital. Is it really alright for me to go in to see her?"

"Of course it is silly!" She said as she jumped in front of him to pull his attention. "You only did what you had to so all of Equestria was safe. I'm sure Twilight doesn't hold anything against you."

"That may be true...but I still feel responsible for all of this."

"Well..." Pinkie said as she spun on her hooves. "If you're going to be such a stick in the mud, I'll just wait out here until you cheer up." She said with a wink before walking off to a nearby bench.

Sombra smiled as he realized that she had read him like an open book. He wanted to meet Twilight alone so he might have a moment to speak things through with her. For the first time ever, some pony was able to see through his facade. Was it that he lost his touch? No. Pinkie just knew him well enough to know what he was really thinking.

The pink mare waved at him from the bench as she turned to look at him. He returned the wave with a half smiled before walking into the hospital.

As he stepped in, the smell of plastic and strange medicine filled his nostrils. It was almost too much for his sensitive nose, but he pushed through it. It was only a short walk to Twilight's room. No pony questioned him, they all knew who he was and what he was doing there. Most greeted him, others simply nodded in acknowledgement, but they all noticed him. He was sort of hard to miss.

"Hello Elite." A voice called to him as it came close.

"You know I do not go by that name anymore Blue Blood." Sombra said as he came to a stop to face the white stallion who was walking in his direction.

"I know, but I also know you're the last blood in existence beside me. I can't help but call you by your birth name." He said as he too came to a stop, a sly smile on his face.

"Were you here to see Sparkle?"

"Me? No. I was here for my last check up. Our duel left me in a pretty bad condition, I could barely continue my daily routine with so many aches.

"Going to parties is tiring, I'm sure." Sombra said with a smirk of his own.

"Hardy har. I'll have you know that I take care of a very important task for Canterlot." Blue Blood said as he began to walk passed the dark stallion.

"And what would that be?" Sombra asked as he turned to see him off.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" He replied with a chuckle.

Left behind, Sombra couldn't help but smile. That stallion was still the same even after such a thrashing, it was respectable, if nothing else, that could carry on like if nothing happened. It was something Sombra struggled with, letting things go. His mistakes were constantly replaying in his head, a past that haunted him.

With a sigh, Sombra returned on his way to Twilight, a trip that was much shorter than expected as he suddenly found himself at the room where a purple mare sat on a hospital bed. She was looking out the window and had not yet noticed him. With a soft knock on the door frame, he managed to get her attention.

"Oh, hello Sombra..." She said as she turned to see him, though as soon as she realized who it was, embarrassment took over her.

"Hello Sparkle." He said as he walked in and towards her bed side. "How are you feeling."

"Good, at least better than before. The doctors are surprised that I even woke up."

"Yes, they didn't exactly believe me when I told them what happened. It wasn't 'scientifically and medically possible' they said."

"Yeah, sounds about right." Twilight replied with a forced smile. "Look Sombra...I'm sorry."

"Oh?" He asked as he looked over the fidgeting mare. It was odd to have some pony apologize to him, for a long time it was he who apologized. It was weird to be on the other side of the conversation for once. "And what exactly are you sorry for Sparkle?"

"I caused a huge mess. The doctors told me what happened, all of this grief happened because I didn't listen to you."

"It was I who taught you the magic that corrupted you."

"But it was me who ignored all your warnings."

Sombra laughed softly as he realized that the conversation would only spiral back and forth. "Then how about we just agree that we're both at fault then?"

Twilight giggled as she too found herself begin to fall into the cycle of resentment. "Sure."

"Are we interrupting something?" A regal voice asked from the door. Turning to face who it was, Twilight's face brightened up when she saw Celestia, Luna, and Cadence all walking in.

"Not at all your highnesses." Sombra said.

"No need for such formalities Sombra." Luna said as she came in and greeted them.

"Yeah, we're practically family now anyway." Cadence said as she walked directly over to her sister-in-law to see how she was doing.

"And why is that?" Sombra asked, a little concerned by the way she had said that statement.

"Well it was supposed to be a surprise." Celestia said as she threw a glance at the blushing pink alicorn. "But we had all agreed that a reward was in order for what you had done for Equestria."

"A reward?" He asked.

"Why yes, doth thou recall Pinkie's joke before we set off to battle Twilight?"


"We all wish to grant you the title of Prince of Darkness, and have you ascend to our ranks." Celestia said with a large smile.

Everything was silent as the words slowly sunk in for Sombra. It only took a moment for them to register in his mind before he burst into laughter, a laugh that persisted for quite a while. It was a genuine laugh that almost broke him into tears.

"Is something humorous?" Luna asked out.

"Why yes, this whole situation is quite funny if you ask me." Sombra said as he began to recover his composure. "I, the Banished Prince of the Blood family. I, the unicorn once know as the Tyrant of the Crystal Empire. I, the Embodiment of Darkness, is to became a Prince of Equestria? Forgive my sudden outburst, but I will have to decline that gift."

"But why?" Cadence began. "I think that you of all ponies deserves this. It would honor us to have you in our court of Royal Alicorns, your past has nothing to do with this."

"Maybe not, but still, after all I've been through...I just want a calm and simple life." Sombra said as he moved to the window. Looking down, he saw Pinkie Pie talking to some pony. A large smile upon her face as she was no doubt making another friend. Slowly all the alicorns, even Twilight, came to the window as well to see.

"You realize that there is no such thing as 'calm and simple' when it comes to Pinkie, right?" Twilight asked in a tease.

"Maybe not, but when I'm around that mare my mind is at ease. The voices that drive me to insanity are silenced and I no longer have to worry about falling into madness."

Every pony all looked at one another as they smiled. With a soft giggle, they all nodded in agreement as Celestia stepped forward to speak.

"If you do not wish to be given the title of Prince, we will respect that choice. Just know that the offer is always valid, so if you ever change your mind."

"Alright alright." Sombra said as he turned to face the mares. "I get the idea." He said in a half smile.

"Now, would thou like to explain why thou hath called us all here?" Luna asked out.

"What?" The youngest of the alicorns asked.

"When Sombra found out you had awoken, he sent us all a message that he wanted to speak with us. So here we are." Cadence answered.

"So what is the matter Sombra?"

Taking a moment to breath in, Sombra thought very carefully about what he was about to say. It was certainly not the news any of them wanted to hear now of all times.

"We...have a problem." He began.

"What kind of problem?" Celestia asked.

"Sparkle, do you recall what I said about the Stigma of Darkness?" Sombra asked the purple mare as he shifted his gaze to her.

"Yeah, you said that ponies could only use dark magic when exposed to it. Otherwise, they can't cast it even if they tried."

"Exactly, and after what happened, I fear that all the unicorns of Equestria have been exposed to dark magic."

"What does that mean?"

"It means...if we do not do something, unicorns all over Equestria will under go corruption and we will have thousands of Twilight Sparkles running around causing mayhem." Sombra said as he drew parallel between the corrupted Twilight to a possible future, it was certainly not a pretty image.

"That...isn't good." Cadence said softly.

"It certainly isn't." Celestia said as she looked around, though she held a rather sly smile on her face. "And you wouldn't happen to have a plan for this, would you?" She asked Sombra.

"Of course I do." He said in a boastful manner. "I'm Sombra, The Reformed, I can do anything. Though I do require some assistance."

"Anything." Twilight said as he felt compelled to help, after all, this was heavily her fault.

"I require...funds."


Many ponies made small talk as they all began to flood into a class room. All manner of unicorns began to take seats in their new lecture hall. Some where happy and excited, others not so much. Many held the face of concern in their eyes, afraid to be taking part of this at all. Yet they were all present.

A small amount of time passed and a bell rung, signifying that class has started. They all quiet down as a tall dark stallion walked in. He carried himself with great power and pride, a trait he got from his father.

"Its Sombra, The Reformed." A student whispered as he saw Sombra come to the head of the room where he turned around and faced the mass of students. They all looked at him in awe as he scanned the class.

Clearing his throat, Sombra spoke in a cold manner. "As you all know, I am Sombra, The Reformed and you are here for one of two reasons. You either enrolled into this class because you were curious as to what this class could teach you, or you were told to enroll because you showed traits of corruption due to the dark magic that now courses through your very being."

All were silent as none dared to interrupt him.

"I am here to teach you how to control your magic so that your magic does not end up controlling you instead. Some of you might want to continue studies in the Dark Arts, others simply wish to learn how to keep a lid on your powers so you do not fall into madness, but none of you are allowed to fail. I am here to make sure of that." Sombra said as he looked around the room. "Any questions?"

Again they were all quiet. They all looked at one another as they took in everything that had been said to them. Slowly one mare raised a hoof. "I-I have one."

"Then ask."

"W-Why are you the one here teaching us. I thought this course would be taught by some expert professor or something..."

"Do you think I am not an expert? I, who has had the most experience in the Dark Arts?"


"Do you all perhaps think I am not qualified because Princess Twilight Sparkle, my last student, fell to insanity?"

None said anything.

"I admit, I was at fault when it came to Twilight Sparkle, but I have learned from my mistakes, and I will not fail now that all of Equestria is at risk of corruption."

"Why are we at risk?" A stallion asked out. To this Sombra raised an eyebrow.

"Does any pony here know that answer to the question?" He asked out to the entire class, though they stayed quiet.

"Because of the Stigma of Darkness." A filly with a saddle bag said from the door. She drew every pony's attention, but most began to snicker as they saw her walk in.

"Are you lost little filly?" The same stallion asked out.

"No, I'm not!" She cried out, a little offended by the question.

"Ahem." Sombra cleared his throat, gesturing for her to calm down. "Dinky Do, you seem to be the only pony here who knows what the Stigma of Darkness is. Would you mind explaining it?"

"Sure." She said with a smile. "The Stigma of Darkness is a mark that is placed on any and all ponies who came in contact with dark magic. Once branded with the stigma, they are able to use dark magic. After the events of the Fall from Grace incident where Princess Twilight became corrupt, all unicorns in Equestria were branded with the stigma and are now both able to use dark magic, but also at risk to fall into insanity die to the nature of dark magic. In response, Sombra, The Reformed, with the help of the Royal Alicorns, established a school for the Dark Arts to be taught so that ponies could control their magic." Dinky said as she recited the story without a hitch. "Didn't any of you read the text book that you were sent by mail?"

"Uhhh..." Many said as they looked for a valid excuse.

A chuckled escaped Sombra as the expression of embarrassment from being up staged by a filly filled the class. "Dinky, why don't you take a seat? We shall begin class soon."

In a joyful nod, the filly ran over to the closest seat to Sombra she could find as she began to unpack a journal and pen for note taking.

Class was short, as was all first days of class, but it seemed to have dragged on forever to Sombra's students. He had unloaded a large amount of information to them, causing a great fuss, though it seemed that the only one not to be upset was Dinky who was happy to be learning.

"Class is dismissed." Sombra said as he placed the piece of chalk down. At once every pony began to pack up and make their way to the door. Though before the first pony was able to reach for the knob, it turned on its own as a pink mare quickly made her way in and ran to embrace the dark stallion.

"Sombra!~" Pinkie shouted as she wrapped her arms around him. "I missed you!"

"As did I." He said as he placed a soft kiss on her forehead, causing her to blush. "Though it has only been an hour since I last saw you."

"But that was a whole hour without seeing each other!"

"Touche." Sombra responded with a smile. "I am sure you're eager to go get something for lunch, no?"

"How'd you guess?"

"Cause it has also been over an hour since you last ate something. You must be starving." He teased.

"You bet!" Pinkie said as she finally let go and began to hop in place of walking. She and Sombra began to make their way to the door but were interrupted when they heard some pony call out to the stallion.

"Uh, Mister Sombra?" Dinky asked as she stepped towards them, causing them to stop in their tracks.

"Yes Dinky?" He responded.

"Can I talk to you for a bit?"

"What's the matter?" He asked as he came close to the nervous filly.

"'s about this..." She said as she took out a signed parchment.

"It's the letter of recommendation I signed for you." Sombra said as he levitated to look at it.

"Yeah, because of it I got a full scholarship to attend this school. I asked around, and I'm the only pony who got one."

"Of course. You're the only one I wrote one for." Sombra responded, not quite understanding what the problem was.

"But..why though?" Dinky said as she looked up at him. "I'm just a unicorn from Ponyville who couldn't even use levitation until recently. I don't belong here with these...high class ponies." She said.

Sombra turned to look at Pinkie who smiled at him. With a sigh, he began to understand what this was all about. Pinkie too understood, but instead of intervening, allowed Sombra to speak, after all, he once stood in her hooves.

"So basically, you feel unfit for your role as a student here?"

"Mhm." Dinky said with her head down.

"Dinky, walk with us won't you?" Sombra said as he turned around and began to walk away. Surprised by the sudden request, Dinky hesitated to do as he asked. Shaking her head, she ran after the couple who were already well on their way out.

Entering the halls of the school was a surprise. All kind of ponies were walking around, all on their way to their classes. Sombra and Pinkie, though they stood out, were largely ignored, no doubt because every pony was more preoccupied with other things. The school itself was new, only recently opened for lecture. It had taken a few months for it to be completed, a few months for ponies to begin to understand that dark magic was beginning to run rampant among unicorns.

It was a very beautiful school with many old styles that fit the theme of darkness and mystics. No doubt a certain Element of Harmony had a say in how the school was to be constructed and decorated. Slowly the three of them made their way to the courtyard were many students were talking to one another or reading a book. It certainly was the perfect place to simply rest and enjoy the outside with the rich decor of the garden.

"Dinky, why do you feel unfit for this school?" Sombra asked, finally breaking the silence that had reigned for so long.

"Well, I barely know anything about magic, much less about dark magic. Besides, I'm just a commoner compared to these ponies, uh, no offence Pinkie."

"None taken!" The pink mare said with a smile, happily hopping in front of them.

"You shouldn't think yourself inferior to others."

"Kinda hard when it's so apparent." Dinky responded in a pout.

"Dinky." Sombra said as he finally came to a stop. He turned to face the filly, looking down at her.


"I have a story I want to tell. Afterwards, I will ask you again if you think being born into high class truly means anything."

"Well okay, but I doubt it will change my mind." She replied, though was a little off put by the sly grin Pinkie had on her face.

In a gentle smile, Sombra sat down as he drew the filly close. "Allow me to tell you a story of a banished prince."