The King of Shadows tries to lend advice to the Sith on how to manage their population of slaves. Too bad he doesn't understand "movie magic" isn't real!
An innocent question about a reference from a newspaper Sombra's consort Nyx pulls back from the future turns into a quest for the King of Shadows to teach the Sith how to properly run a universe of slaves. He has the experience, after all. Unfortunately he just doesn't understand that movies aren't real and what Nyx hopes will be a romantic date out turns into a nightmare in Appleoosa!
Inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Cover Art by eskerra
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“NO!” I was in the bathroom and I wasn't coming out. It was usually suicide to say that to the all-powerful King of the Crystal Empire, but I wasn't exactly in my right mind at the time (I was furious He'd rather see a movie than let me entertain Him AND my hooves were KILLING ME). I guess I was banking on the fact I had sewed His favorite stuffed toy bugbear back together after He'd thrown a fit over Princess Celestia's last “State of the Empire” inspection report recommending Sombry abolish slavery and impaled the hapless toy with black crystal spikes.
He loves that toy!
*sigh* I sigh A LOT in this job. Sometimes – not often – I really HATE my job, especially when He wants to sneak out of the castle in disguise to go see a new movie. You can disguise a lot of His features, but the blood-red, curved horn is NOT one of them.
I should have seen it coming when last week I caught Him with a copy of the Appleoosa Daily Watering Hole, looking at the new movie review section. He was fascinated I had managed to bring a copy of a “newspaper” back with me from Equestria's future and couldn't put it down.
“Yes, my beloved King?”
“What are the 'Sith'?”
“Dead idiots who couldn't help their Master keep the Galactic Empire's slaves under control,” I replied distractedly, trying to keep my concentration on which harp string was the last I'd tuned.
“Hrumph,” He grunted, going back to reading. “Amateurs.”
The next day I answered the castle door to a very strange courier carrying a long, narrow package that looked like another torture device for the dungeons. Since when did Sombra resort to the internet to mail order his toys? He always makes them Himself, arguing no one crafted them in the quality crystals He desired.
I was clearly missing something here, then it hit me as I saw the UEP (United Equestrian Parcel service) truck behind him. “You're going to run out of gas if you keep the motor running,” I warned him. “there isn't a gas station around for 1,000 years. Thought I should warn you,” as I looked over the paperwork the driver wanted me to sign.
He simply stared at me like a cockatrice in the torchlight.
It was during that blank stare I returned it with one of my own, the light of how weird this situation was slowly dawning like the sun coming over the two local mountains, Little Crystal and its much larger companion, Sombra's Maw. You have to understand, when you have no control half the time over your accursed cutie mark's ability to fling you through the time vortex, you have a hard time remembering what technology belongs where and when.
And worse, how did the courier come through the time vortex all by himself?
“Sombra? Have you been dabbling in time magic again without my supervision?” I yelled from the castle entrance back towards his office.
“No comment,” came back the grumbled reply. “And how can you supervise somepony else when you can't control it half the time yourself?”
Smartass, I grumbled to myself, but he does have a point. Oh well, that explained that. I peered at the sender of the package. Twilight's Happy Fun Intergalactic Dungeon Toys?!? What the buck?!? I thought they brown packaged these damn things for discretion!
Disgusted the King of Shadows thought he needed a marital aid (trust me, HE doesn't!), I took my anger out on the UES driver. “Twilight's Happy what?!? Never heard of 'em!” I slammed the castle door in the courier's face. Sombra and I were going to have a little “talk” after he reviewed the troops this evening.
“They changed the name,” I heard the driver call out from behind the door. “They used to be Twilight's Dirty Toys for Despots Shack.”
“Still never heard of 'em.” I was unimpressed he was so familiar with the company he'd know this. “Try the Yak's Castle down the road!”
A MINUTE LATER - “Nyx? Was that the courier from Twilight's Toys with my package?”
ANOTHER PAINFUL MINUTE OF LIMPING LATER - “Nyx, why is your hoof bleeding?”
“I ran after the courier in my bare hooves,” I explained, handing Him the package. “The landscape slaves haven't cleaned off the walkways from when you impaled the last assassin with crystal shards.”
“WHAT?” He yelled. “THAT WAS A WEEK AGO!!!”
“Tell me about it,” I sighed again, this time in pain.
What a night. I leaned over to pick evil, black splinters out of my toe. I caught Sombra looking at the blood dripping from my hoof with interest. He ran His tongue over His lips. I put on a sly smile, shifting my hips under His favorite gown in a way He instantly noticed. “Does Somby want a midnight snack?” I whispered.
Turns out Somby, er Sombra, did.
There are days I HATE my job. The evenings make up for them.
NOT Just Another Day in the Castle
Stupidly I thought that was the end of his obsession with Hoof Wars: The Cutie Mark Awakens. I should have known Umbrum have a unique ability to get too much into their “hobbies”. The first time he saw a slave it was on a trip to Yak Yakistan three decades ago and thought it was a great idea to implement back home. Princesses Celestia and Luna can tell you how that worked out for us!
Nyx hummed as she walked through the Crystal Empire's dark castle, released to her duties as her Lord King Sombra went to his daily review of the troops and battle practice. Days in court were always strictly scheduled, usually tight and always there was never a moment's peace in between for quality time with her dark pony except at dinner, bath time and retiring for the evening.
Today, was even worse because every activity in the next two days had either been rescheduled or was moved to TODAY to accommodate a trip the two were taking outside the Crystal Empire tonight.
Nyx had frowned upon hearing this from the official scheduler - a dour, uptight unicorn called Tight Planner. She frowned because King Sombra almost never left the Kingdom on such short notice and because she and Tight Planner hated each other and it meant she would have to talk to him further about it. They were always at odds, bickering and arguing about, big surprise, Sombra's schedule and how much the bureaucrat was trying to cram down the King's throat with meetings, visits by dignitaries, decrees, prisoner interrogations, blah, blah, blah!
As if on cue, the annoying little bastard had melted out of the shadows to fall into step beside her, levitating his ever-present quill, parchment of tasks and speaking in that whiny, snarky tone.
Nyx only wanted to know two things at that moment – one, how could a being both whiny and snarky at the same time exist, and two, was he related to the King of Shadows the way he came out of nowhere, detaching from the dark recesses of walls like that?
“Floodlights,” the Queen of Future Sight answered, ignoring Tight, knowing he would still follow because that's just how annoying he was.
“'Floodlights',” he repeated. “What are those?” the official planner asked.
“Oh, something I saw in the future,” she answered not at all. “something you reminded me we need in the hallways.”
Tight looked pleased with himself. Let him. She had seen his future. He would find out just how “indispensable” he was around there the next time he accidentally sent a confirmation to Princess Celestia of how pleased the Tyrant King was she was stopping by to inspect His kingdom.
The surly unicorn looked at her askew as she threw her head back and laughed at this vision. “What's so funny?”
“You,” she settled down to giggling mildly. “You grovel so well before my royal lover.”
He stopped short, Nyx bumping into him. “You shouldn't call His Royal Majesty that in public!” his voice added 'scared' to his repertoire of whiny and snarky.
“Keep practicing that, you'll need that fear later,” she nodded in approval, again clarifying nothing for him at all.
Sidestepping, she resumed walking, a bit faster to make up for lost time. “And you're hardly 'public', Waster.”
“'Planner, PLANNER!” he corrected. “By Celestia's power, why do you have to speak in riddles?!?”
She spared him an acid look. “Not riddles,” she corrected perfunctorily. “in thirds.”
He rolled his eyes. “And what in Tartarus does that mean?”
“Past, present and future,” Nyx shot back. “Have you met me?”
“Unfortunately,” the stallion muttered under his breath.
Not every, single comment by the miserable little toadie required replying to. Half the time Nyx couldn't be bothered, the other half she quite literally did not hear him, being pulled here and there by memories and futures of the various hallways and corridors of the castle itself. So many rulers, so much intrigue in the ghostly images she and an unaware Tight Planner walked through. Sometimes she walked through parts that felt ice cold, that slowed her physically as well as mentally, struggling through them as if wading through a vat of crystallized honey that threatened to catch her forever like an insect in amber – or in one of her King's large, specialized stasis crystals.
She shuddered. Those were the only futures that remained vague to her – partially unreadable as to what was going on in the fortified domain she and Sombra called home. Every day that passed, they grew a tiny bit clearer, as if heading towards their eventuality brought her closer and closer to an answer. The Marazon seer only hoped she could unravel their mysteries and impart the knowledge to the ruler of the Crystal Kingdom before they both became flies in that unwelcoming amber.
Shaking her head violently to dispel those thoughts, Nyx drew herself back to the present. “Okay, Planner, what is our destination tonight? What has my King found so pressing He must journey outside of His domain for?”
As they hit the long stairway down to the main throne room, he shrugged. “Sadly I know not,” he slipped back into formal address as they passed more and more servants, attendants and court officials. “The Dark One did not impart that knowledge to me, but He intonated that it would be something you would enjoy as well as His illustrious Self.”
She couldn't help but smile smugly. Perhaps they were to journey to the crystal hot springs as she had been begging Him to do for a while now. Their adjoining mud baths were also wonderfully therapeutic, both reminding her of their twin location in her far flung home with the Marazons nestled among the peaks of the Seven Mares Mountains on the western coast of Equestria.
She stopped a passing Hoof Maiden, instructing her to prepare her most luxuriously scented oils and herbs for the trip. The mare bowed and went to do Nyx's bidding.
She turned her attention back to Tight Planner who was now headed to another part of the castle to attend to something else. “Planner, is Captain Iron Blade back from Kajeiri Provence yet?”
“Not yet, Nyxie,” he replied, already being stopped by staff with other questions. “so sorry you can't take Him and Quiet Hoof on one of your decadent hot tub – OOOFFF!”
Planner reached a hoof up where his cheek stung from the TimeWitch's magic. He was surprised to see blood, but not as surprised as when she next grabbed and flung him against the hard, crystal wall so hard he saw stars.
The staff he had been conversing with shrank back as she approached him. Her eyes blazed with time magic, like dark vortexes on darker vortexes only visible by the faint light of stars around them getting sucked into their centers. Never believing he would think looking at her usual completely black eyes was preferable, he found himself trembling uncontrollably at their sight.
“Remember, worm who's court you are privileged to exist in!” she said coolly, levelly, her anger brimming underneath, creating a feeling of time freezing around them that prevented Planner from breathing.
Behind and all around Nyx, officials, servants and slaves alike drew back, the officials and servants bowing deeply, the slaves throwing themselves to the ground, averting their eyes. She ignored them, concentrating on her prey at the moment.
“You dare besmirk His name with your thoughtless talk again in an attempt to rattle my cage and I will throw your cage into the void of space and rip it apart in the time winds!”
Planner nodded, choking. She eased up and he gasped, mumbling something she didn't hear. Her annoyance grew when he averted his eyes to behind her and they got as big as saucers, but then she smiled, realizing what he was staring at.
“I hope you were going to ask my permission before doing that, Nyx,” came a dark stallion's voice behind her.
Keeping her magical grip on Tight Planner, she turned and curtsied before King Sombra, locking eyes with the floor. “As always, my King and my love,” she began as he tilted her head up with a hoof, forcing her to look into his amused, red eyes. “I merely open the door. I was rather hoping you would throw him in first,” she replied wickedly.
“What am I going to do with you, Nyx?” Sombra shook his head, smiling grimly as they walked back towards the throne room, a thoroughly cowed Tight Planner trailing a good three feet behind.
“Love me for eternity, my King?” she brushed up against his side, her soft mane flowing over His jaw and neck just under His chin. She hated how His armor restricted their physical contact!
“Do I have a choice?” he rumbled pleasantly. “You are way too dangerous to be let loose on the Crystal Empire, let alone Equestia, my dear.”
Nyx laughed. “So says the Unicorn Witch King Himself!”
“That makes it official, then,” He laughed. “As the King decrees, you are never to be let out of Our sight ever again.”
Nyx smiled, baring sharp canines a twin to her consort's. That arrangement suited her just fine. “You are back early from troop review and practice. Planner tells me you have plans for us tonight. Do tell!”
He smiled again. “No.”
“Oh!” she mock pouted. “How can I prepare then?”
“True. We will require you to cast a time spell for where we are going,” He nodded. He looked back to Planner, slowing their steps. “Go on ahead, Planner. Make sure things are prepared for Us. We are on a tight schedule.”
“Yes, yes, your Highness!” he bowed and galloped off, glad to be given leave to be out of Nyx's presence.
As soon as he was gone, Nyx cocked her head at Sombra. “A time spell?” she repeated. “to take us somewhere?”
“I am still getting the hang of them, my dark heart,” she shook her head, running a hoof over His upper forehoof where she could feel the corded steel of sleek muscles under the black fur. “It is risky taking other ponies with me at this point. I have only just mastered pulling items back and forth with me as I time hop,” she cautioned.
“Yes. Items such as that - what did you call it?”
“A newspaper,” she answered.
“Yes,” He grinned, resuming walking. “and that gift you have for me.”
Her eyes widened. “Did somepony tell you - “
“No,” he laughed. “no, I stumbled across it. You should find new hiding places for my presents, Nyx.”
“You are just – nosy,” she muttered. “you were spying on me!” it occurred to her, her voice accusing.
“I am the King, Nyx. I do not 'spy'!”
“You spy on everyone!” she grumbled. “You just usually get your shadow guards to do it for You.”
“You,” he punctuated with rubbing her side this time. “require me to spy on you personally. Which I have the impression you do not particularly mind, my dear.”
“Fair enough,” she sighed. “I just haven't given it to You yet because it requires batteries - “
“It won't work properly until I do,” she explained.
“Well,” He smiled as they turned the corridor to the throne room. “You will get your chance to get them where you are taking us. And I will make good use of it in Appleloosa, along with my new toy from Twilight's - ”
Nyx slowed, Sombra following suit. “'Appleloosa'?” she echoed. Her eyes widened as a glimmer of a vision flickered over her eyes. “No...”
“Why not?” he grinned. “You said these Sith - “
“No,” she shook her head.
“If they require assistance in the art of slave training - “
“No!” Nyx refused, her mane sparkling slightly brighter with her emotions. “It is just a movie. You can't be serious!”
“Perhaps there is an alliance to be had here,” He mused, not listening to her, opening the doors to the throne room. “and while we are there, you can explain this concept of a 'movie' further to Me.”
Nyx clammed up as the line of guards inside snapped to attention. Officials, attendants and slaves all bowed, waiting for their King to enter. The TimeWitch threw the King of the Crystal Empire a last, shocked look, then facehoofed herself as Sombra grinned wickedly. The matter was settled.
“He what?” Commander Iron Blade glared at the shadow guard. Was it posible for these creatures to lose their minds? They possessed a surprising amount of creative intelligence when it came to defending their King in battle, but were little more than hive-like drones the rest of the time. He couldn't fathom what they were asking of him!
Maybe it was more likely he had simply not heard the Umbrum correctly.
“Hissss Eminence wishesss the Commander to join Him in lightsssaber practice,” the dark, armored cloud of shifting shadows repeated.
Blade scratched his ears, unhappy the phrase had repeated itself word-for-word and was just as confusing as before. “Okay...” the Commander of Sombra's legions said slowly. “Do YOU know what a 'lightsaber' is?”
“Not asss sssuch, Commander,” the creature admitted.
“I know what light is – it is the opposite of our King, basically, and a saber is a thinner version of my own blade, quite useless in battle, in my humble opinion. Therefore, putting the two together does not a weapon make,” he said, shaking his head slowly. “But please, lead the way. I am dying to find out what this new weapon is bound to be.”
The Umbrum shadow guard floated ahead, leading Iron Blade back through the hallways, downstairs to the ground level, out the back of the castle and to the King's private training grounds. While en route, he asked the guard, “And where does this weapon herald from, guard?”
“I am told it came from an armory of the future desssignated, 'Twilight's Dirty Toysss for Dessspotsss Ssshack',” it replied.
That stopped Blade cold. He giggled, the giggle turning into a laugh, the laugh into a full-blown howl of uncontrollable laughter. The guard paused, confused at the Commander's behavior. Every time it saw a flesh creature react in such a way it felt intensely uncomfortable and unsure of how to deal with it or the situation.
Poor Iron Blade had to lean against a pillar, feeling a cramp seize his sides from laughing so much. The Umbrum swirled around him, its coloring growing lighter in confusion. “Do you require asssissstance, Commander?”
It was several minutes before the red stallion was able to settle down enough and take in oxygen to reply to the confused creature. “No...no. But that was a good one, guard. Nyx has finally taught you things a sense of humor, eh? It works very well with your deadpan...er...manner,” he groped, unable to say 'face' as the thing had no face to speak of. “I must go find her and congratulate her. It only took her six years to accomplish such a feat!” He began walking the other direction, back towards the castle.
“Commander!” it caught up with him, blocking his way. “You are requesssted by Hisss Eminence,” it insisted. “You mussst accompany us.”
The red-bodied unicorn shook his head. “Listen, guard...what the Tartarus is your designation? You all look alike to me.”
“Four fifty-six,” it said in its whispery voice.
“Four fifty-six, yes,” Blade repeated. “this is a prank.”
“A 'prank'?” it echoed. “Pleassse explain, Commander on our way to see Hisss Eminence,” it requested.
He refused to budge. “A 'prank'” he explained. “is – um...ah...well. It is a...jest. Like the Fools of April Day.”
“I do not underssstand, Commander,” it said in a flat voice.
“Like the time Nyx brought back itching powder from the future and had you sneak it into Tight Planner's undergarments,” Blade explained patiently. “Do you recall his reaction?”
“Ssscreaming,” the shadow guard replied, giving a fair example of shaking its form in agreement. “and ssscratching and removing hisss clothing during the daily ssschedule review with Hisss Eminence's entire ssstaff in attendance.”
The memory brought a smile to Iron Blade's features. “Ah yes, dear Nyx humored my request to wait until I was in the Kingdom and able to be there to see that.” He came back to the present. “Anyway, everyone had a good laugh about it, yes?”
“Guard Four Fifty-Six wasss there,” it spoke of itself in the third person. Why it started to do this, the Commander had no idea. They were rather – random that way. “Guard Four Fifty-Six believed all had been ssseized by a dissseassse of the mind.”
“A temporary insanity,” Blade pursed his lips, seeing how the creature could have believed that to be the case.
“Guard Four Fifty-Six wasss most concerned His Eminence wasss alssso ssstricken,” it added in a believable tone of concern for its Master.
“Yes,” the stallion agreed, nodding vigorously. “You grabbed His Eminence and dragged Him out of the room for His own protection.”
“A regrettable move,” it admitted. “His Eminence wasss mossst forgiving of the incident.”
“That's because He is one of you, or rather you are one of His kind,” Blade nodded. “He understands we are – confusing at times to the Umbrum.”
“It isss difficult to comprehend your flesssh creaturesss waysss,” again the strange shake of its body, imitating the nod it had witnessed ponies often do when agreeing with each other. “How do you know thisss is one of thossse 'pranksss', Commander?”
The stallion took a deep breath. He hated wasting so much time explaining the basics of pony behavior to a drone guard, but had discovered over the years they were trainable at times – if they lasted that long – and the effort paid off when it persuaded them his unwillingness to go with it was not an act of rebellion against the King. “Because, 'Twilight's Dirty Toys for Despots Shack' is one of those strange 'armories' in the future, hence making this a 'prank' and a mess I will be speaking to Nyx about right after I attend to my duties.” He began to walk the other way, but felt himself grabbed by an extension of the Umbrum and levitated off the ground while it floated back in the direction of the King's private training grounds.
“Or perhaps I will speak to the King about it right now,” he sighed.
Nyx was getting a serious headache from how many times she had facehoofed herself since discovering her King's new determination to prepare for their meeting with the “Sith”. Having researched the term “fancolt”, which had been part of the newspaper article describing the excitement surrounding the release of the new “Hoof Wars” movie, she realized, much to her horror, that the King of the Crystal Empire was rapidly descending into their ranks.
Not for the first nor the third, but for the tenth time in as many minutes had she fervently wished the toy sword her mate swung around in glee was a real lightsaber she could throw herself on and be done with the whole thing. She watched from a comfortable seat in the shade as He pranced back and forth, wielding the toy weapon as if it were a real sword, charging about with it, dodging and parrying imaginary enemy of the Sith, and realized with mixed emotions that He was actually smiling and having a good time. Perhaps it wasn't as bad as she had initially thought...
The dark stallion bounded up to her, startling her out of her distant thoughts as He boomed, “It is good to get a bit of exercise!”
“Yes, yes, it does my heart good to see you so – enthused about our trip,” she replied. “Our trip not going to the hot springs and not having quality time with Blade and Quiet Hoof,” her voice trailed off.
“We'll go another time, my dear,” He replied distractedly, turning the weakly weighted toy weapon for a few quick spins in His aura's grip. “This is quite unsatisfactory for real combat, of course - “
“ - well, it was made for the mock, play combat of one's own bedchambers, my love,” she said daintily, fanning herself with the damnable newspaper that had started all this nonsense. Perhaps, if she tried really hard, she could distract Him from all this movie excursion insanity -
“So, I will make a basic adjustment to its structure,” He told her, His aura of black magic encompassing it in bubbling purple, green and black energies. Grunting in approval at the result, He hefted it up over His head.
The glint of sharpened crystal along its blade made Nyx's eyes go wide. She fell back as the King of Shadows brought it down on the stone table in front of her with a mighty blow, shattering the hapless piece of lawn furniture into a thousand fragments.
It never had a chance.
“Hmm...” the King of Shadows frowned, thoughtful.
“You can't bring that into a theater!” the TimeWitch scolded.
“You are quite right about that, my dear,” Sombra grumbled. “It is not consistent with your description of a true 'lightsaber'.” He walked away, studying it as it floated ahead of Him in His magical grip.
“Did you win the argument, Your Highness?”
Nyx turned to see Commander Iron Blade come up, accompanied by two shadow guards. She waved the guards away and they returned to their posts, much to the relief of their charge. “What argument, Blade?” she asked.
He looked to Sombra. “The one he had with the lawn furniture.”
She shrugged, gesturing to the rubble. “What do you think?”
“King Sombra – 1, lawn furniture – 0 . Is that why I'm here? To act as scorekeeper?”
His Majesty grunted. “Very funny, Blade. You'll replace Tight Planner as court jester next, yes?”
The Commander shook his head. “He performs that function quite well, even as he's trying to schedule you half to death with useless meetings.”
“Yes, one day civilization will rid us of annoyances like him and his job,” Sombra assured him.
Nyx laughed. “Remind me to take you to a corporate meeting in the future, my dark heart.”
“What is – “ Blade opened his mouth to ask the TimeWitch what a 'corporate' was, but decided against it. “Ah, nevermind.” Most of the time the answers just gave him more questions to ask and no answers to them or the original question.
The mare jumped up, putting a hoof on Blade's withers. “Please, Blade, try and talk some sort of sense into our feared ruler and tell him he cannot take a 'lightsaber' to see Hoof Wars tonight.”
Not having understood a word of what she had said, he turned to King Sombra. “Sombra, you cannot take a 'lightsaber' to see Hoof Wars tonight.” He looked back at Nyx who shook her head in disgust and walked away to sit back under the shade. Iron Blade followed her. “Why can't he take a weapon to this, this...what did you call it?”
She rolled her eyes. “It's a 'movie'.”
“A parlay with the Sith, Blade,” Sombra said distractedly, playing with altering the molecular structure of the crystalline blade of his weapon.
“You know I hate peace talks, Sombra,” Blade said. “I hope you were not thinking of dragging me along. Unless you suspect treachery and I need to watch your back.”
He grunted. “They cannot control their own slaves. I doubt they will be much of a challenge in that regard. Still, only a fool brings no backup. If you have other duties to attend to, we can take one or two of the Umbrum guards. They should be able to handle it.”
“Thank you,” Iron Blade bowed with a flourish. “Speaking of those muscled shadows of yours, they drug me here saying you were in need of a sparring partner for this 'lightsaber' practice?”
The King came back over to them. “I would if I could get this wretched toy to cooperate.” He turned to Nyx. “Any thoughts, my dear? You are more familiar with the principals of this – creation.”
She shook her head. “It would be like trying to contain a beam of light, Somby. The technology to do that is so advanced we have nothing in our time or in 'Hoof Wars' time to accomplish it.”
He smiled, baring sharp fangs. “Don't be silly, Nyx. Light may be able to restrain where the darkness may go, but dark may also contain the light in turn.”
Nyx and Iron Blade looked at each other blankly. They turned back to Sombra who was already separating the crystal blade from its shaft and reconfiguring the shaft with His magic. They watched, fascinated as He formed an outline of dark magic in the shape of the toy's original, fake blade and filled the space within it with the red glow of light magic. The angry hum of the contained light as it clashed internally with the dark sounded suspiciously like the original sabers in the movie trailer Nyx had seen for the Hoof Wars movies. Their jaws dropped at the resulting creation.
Sombra took the weapon over to the chair the Marazon had been sitting in and sliced it neatly in half. She yelped and jumped back.
Iron Blade's face lit up with glee. “Now THAT'S a weapon!” he nodded enthusiastically.
Nyx only sighed, wondering how much of the King's treasure they would have to take along for bail money.
The rest of the day Nyx practiced and finally perfected her time travel spell. Her pleading and begging Iron Blade to accompany them fell upon deaf pony ears, so disgusted, she stomped away to check on the transportation arrangements.
They were turning out as bad as her unsuccessful pleading with Iron Blade to go with them.
“Really?” she asked sarcastically, staring at the grand, royal carriage. This wouldn't do AT ALL.
“What?” Tight Planner defended his choice. “This is his Majesty's usual mode of transport!”
“If we desire to advertise to all of Equestria where He is going,” she retorted back. “What part of 'in secret' and 'sneaking out of the castle' did you not understand?”
“It is beneath Him to travel in anything less grand,” Planner sniffed.
Nyx rolled her eyes. “He traveled on hoof for weeks, lived out of a tent and ate manticore He took down Himself when he hunted me,” she glared. “For the sake of safe passage, we can do without a stupid, grand carriage for ONE EVENING!” her voice rose.
Planner visibly shivered, not from Nyx's anger, but from the mere thought she had presented him with. “Sounds positively barbaric!”
“No, I believe it is called, 'country western' in Appaloosa.”
“Well, we simply don't have anything 'western', whatever that is,” the scheduler mumbled, taking his leave. “you will have to make due.”
Nyx was left to stare at the opulent crystal contraption, pondering what to do. She sighed. “I suppose an illusion spell would do the trick,” she thought out loud...
The next stop was the royal tailor's. Sombra had beaten her there, so by the time she had arrived, He was already standing before a mirror clad in a dark cloak, fussing with its clasp. Despite her trepidations about the trip, the sight of him cosplaying (she had learned that word on her last trip into the future) a Sith Lord made her positively shiver with excitement and a bit of arousal.
Affixing it for Him, she adjusted the hood to hide His curved, sharp horn, but it didn't quite do the job, collapsing the sides of the hood inward, covering his eyes. He snorted in disgust, causing the hood to flare outward but fall back again against his face.
Nyx smiled and came to the rescue. “Don't fret, my love,” she soothed, pulling his ears out from their usual pinned position behind his steel crown. She couldn't help fluffing them up and giving them an affectionate scratch before replacing the hood, which now, with the help of his (adorable) pony ears, stayed perfectly in place.
“You know well why I conceal my ears in public, Nyx,” He complained. “They always give away my emotions. Not a good idea during negotiations.”
His TimeWitch laughed. “Since when do you negotiate with anyone? You either subjugate or kill them. She turned Him towards the mirror again for His inspection. “Even then, you are usually lurking around in shadow form and have no visible ears!”
“True.” He reviewed the effect in the mirror. It was also true now that His ears were not as visible as He had feared they would be. He gave another grunt, this time in approval, liking the way the fabric now perfectly draped just enough that His ears were concealed, along with His horn and the shadow cast into the cloak gave His red crystal eyes a nice, terrifying glow to boot.
“Still, one cannot be too cautious during a first meeting,” he mumbled, casting a spell of concealment over His horn, masking it as a plain, gray unicorn's horn. “Well?” He asked her, stepping back for the full effect.
“Magnificent!” she squeed, bouncing a little on her hooves. “It works as long as you do not use your dark powers,” she reminded Him. “Then we are screwed.”
“'Screwed'?” He asked her.
“They will throw us out of the theater or jail us,” she explained.
His face darkened. “They wouldn't dare!”
“They would,” Nyx nodded. “Which is why I' am bringing bail money...bribery money,” she explained at His questioning look.
He huffed, clearly not seeing the need. “If you insist.”
She smiled at His pridefulness. It was so like Him!
“Don't worry, my heart. Chances are we will not need it. Besides,” she put her foreleg through His and gave a little, affectionate squeeze. “We will need money for popcorn.”
“Popcorn?” his eyebrows raised, though it was hard to tell under the hood except for a small shift in the fabric.
“Trust me, you'll love it!”
With the preparations taking most of the day, King Sombra decided to set out early the following morning. He cut an imposing figure even concealed by the dark cloak. His own court didn't recognize Him, giving a wide berth as He strode through the hallways of the castle unchallenged. He left the natural look of His horn for the moment so the guards would recognize Him and let him pass, but everyone else He encountered gave Him the taste of fear He was hoping to generate. The boost of dark energy from it brought a pep to His stride and a curl to His lips over His sharp canines.
While the images Nyx had brought back from the future showed the Jedi and the Sith typically carried their weapons slung from a hook on their belts, He had felt this was not efficient and had adapted a better solution. His deactivated lightsaber was secured to an upper forearm strap Quiet Hoof had constructed especially for Him. Having refused to go without His greaves, the black leather boots did not have the natural curve and bend of His legs, but the tailor had done a fair job of adapting them over the steel armor without giving away too much of the harder protection underneath.
He did not have to wait long at the carriage for Nyx. She came out a few minutes after Himself, having gone to the concubine's chambers much earlier to be readied by her hoof maidens. Sombra raised an eyebrow in approval at the soft, tan deer skins laced up her sides, matching style boots to His, but in a matching color to her dress and the simple braiding her maidens had woven her mane and tail into. Not wanting to outshine Sombra's amazing adaptation of a lightsaber, she had requested He construct her a smaller, simple long dagger that was also powered by the turbulent clash of bottled light and dark magics at the touch of a switch in the silver hilt. The Umbrum was delighted to create it and had to admit it fit her costume and personality quite well.
After inspecting His companion, He raised an eyebrow at the strange new look of their carriage. His TimeWitch only smiled and said, “It will fit in and not attract attention. You'll see.”
“That does appear to be the way of these – Sith,” Sombra agreed. “Traveling in stealth, striking from the shadows.” He smiled, feeling a renewed tingle of enthusiasm for their adventure today.
Nyx smiled, His mood contagious. “And what a surprise they will have when a true shadow shows up to parlay!” she beamed at Him.
He grunted in pleasure and took a breath. “Well, then, my dear. Shall we?”
The TimeWitch smiled, nodding. Perhaps this would not be the modern equivalent of a train wreck if she could keep Him in a good mood. Happily, she followed Him into the carriage.
It was decided and agreed by both they should first ride out past the crystal field and well away from the city in case the time spell went wrong. It would not due to accidentally take a portion or the entire thing with them! Their two usual, personal Umbrum guards took the place of the regular staff that pulled the carriage, two easily being enough to draw it when helped along with Sombra's powerful magic enhancing their own physical strength.
Once they were free and clear, they paused, giving Nyx the moment to touch her horn to Sombra's currently unconcealed horn, casting the time spell. She cast the spell itself while the Dark Pony King lent it His nearly limitless reserves of pure, dark power. During this, Sombra commanded the shadow guards to draw them forward again, lending a physical travel spell to traverse the hundreds of miles south they would still need to journey in order to arrive at the correct destination as well as time zone. Bound within that spell was also one to accelerate their speed, so a week's trek would last mere moments. Without Sombra's force field to protect them, however, it would have been useless to use as the great rate of speed would have torn the carriage and its occupants to pieces.
With the spell guiding them, the two sat back inside the carriage and relaxed. Nyx encouraged them to partake in some wine, hoping it would relax her King enough He wouldn't be so quick seek trouble once they were in Appaloosa. It would also hopefully assist her as now she decided was a good time to try to explain once again what exactly a “movie” was.
“This may take you a bit by surprise at first, Somby,” she began the lesson. “I was quite shocked when I first saw it,” starting out with a careful mix of enthusiasm and patience. “Think of it as a magical projection of actors in a play taking place elsewhere and elsewhen and it will perhaps make more sense what we are seeing.”
He thought about this. “I do not see the need for your concern, my dear Nyx.” He took a sip of His wine, confident and at ease.
She shrugged. “I just want to prepare you for the experience as best I can. Think of it first as a study of their culture, weaponry and beliefs, a - “
“ - yes, a reconnaissance mission in which to gather intelligence,” He recalled her saying. “Iron Blade would have been chewing at his own flank in boredom, but 'tis a shame Quiet Hoof could not accompany us. This did used to be her line of work.”
His consort smiled. “Yes. She does want to come to the next outing, after her morning sickness with the new filly passes. It has been striking not just in the mornings and I do not want to subject her to sitting for several hours trying to keep her meals down when she should be resting at home.”
“Agreed. The bargaining table is no place for expectant mares.”
The Marazon nodded, growing quiet. After a moment she closed her eyes. Sombra knew she was monitoring the time spell and let her have the necessary space to concentrate, using the rare time to themselves to enjoy the vacation away from the burden of running an entire kingdom full time.
By the time He had leisurely downed the rest of his cup's wine, He sensed the ebbing of the time spell and pulled back the amount of dark energy He had been feeding it. Unlike most other spells which required only a starter of power, time travel required a constant feed due to its complexity and enormity, making it an exhausting task if used by a regular unicorn using weaker reserves of light magic and if it were needed for more than a short amount of time. Perhaps one day in the future, ponykind would come up with a type of power reserve that could regenerate itself and feed it without constant, directed assistance and control, but until then, these time hops were limited with what could be accomplished. The possibilities intrigued Him no end!
The sensation of motion slowed, followed by a “bump” as they felt the hard, physical ground once again beneath the carriage's wheels. It was not as jarring as Sombra had expected and curious, He drew aside the window curtains to a smooth, stone-paved road cutting across flatlands of grasses and small, flat-topped mountains in the distance. They had left the cold of the Frozen North a thousand years behind and a thousand miles North (literally), the increase in temperature having shot up significantly. Nyx too had opened her eyes, gazing out the window at the waving, dancing effect in the air just above the ground in the distance as heat bounced off the harder packed, untamed ground just beyond the grassy plains.
“Appaloosa lay beyond those mountains ahead,” Nyx told her King, gesturing to solid granite, sandstone colored cliffs that rose from the valley floor and were topped with flat tablelands. They fascinated Him. There was nothing like this in design anywhere in their Northern lands except at the edges of the continent, but that was so far away and was such inhospitable land, no pony thus far in their timeline's history had visited or settled there. This type of landscape had also not been one His armies had encountered on the Marazon campaigns, so it was completely new to Him.
An hour or so later, the carriage was cutting through the narrow pass between the granite cliffs. Sombra had requested they stop for a moment while He got out and inspected the local rock formations, using His talents and senses to play with their feel beneath His hooves. He experimented with raising them, testing their strength and potential for manipulation. Nyx let Him have the time alone, watching from besides the carriage, grateful to stretch her own legs and taking in His curiosity and interests with quiet joy. They rarely had opportunities for such new experiences at home in the Empire these days, so to indulge Him in this manner was both gratifying and precious.
She could barely hold back a smile as Sombra came back into the carriage quite enthused, levitating several samples of local rock He had drilled out with his magics. There was an exuberance in His voice and manner that reminded Nyx of the current timeline's word, “tourist” and caused her to giggle slightly. He raised His gaze to hers, curious at what had caused her to laugh. She gestured to the rock samples. “They are beautiful. Such layers of color!”
He gave her one to inspect. “Different minerals set down in layers at different times over millennia, I suspect,” the stallion explained. “It can be quite brittle when chipped at the wrong – or right angle and feels quite 'gritty'.” He looked outside for a moment. “The winds here may have also played a part in battering their surface, causing such a tactile sensation.”
She smiled again. “You are picking up way too many modern day words from me, Somby!”
“A habit I can only indulge in using in everyday speech around yourself, or Iron Blade to some extent,” He agreed. “It is a good mental exercise to adapt, I have learned.”
She looked at the rock samples again. “Is there any crystal here?”
He shook His head. “Some clear quartz, and this,” He drew out nuggets of a blue stone in various rounded sizes and shapes, some samples having flecks of copper within. “I know no name for this.”
Nyx took it in her magic, turning it over in her grip. “I believe this is turquoise. It is often found with copper deposits as they are from the same family of minerals.”
Sombra nodded. “I sensed as much. The turquoise is too soft to use as a weapon and the copper in too small a deposit at the ground's surface, but there are larger deposits of copper deeper underground.” He gestured outside. “One can tell their approximate location above ground by the lack of vegetation in spots. It apparently is toxic - “ He hesitated, waiting for confirmation He was using the correct word. Nyx nodded. “ - to plant life.”
“It would make quite unusual jewelry,” Nyx mused absently. “I'll give a sample to Quiet Hoof. Blue is her favorite color.”
“We will gather more on the way back,” Sombra agreed. “If it pleases her, I will suggest Iron Blade have my artisans design her something special in time for the filly's birth.”
“That's a lovely idea, Sombra!” his consort patted his hoof, returning the samples to the Dark King. He added them to a chest for safekeeping, then instructed the shadow guards to continue on to Appleoosa.
In a sense, Appleoosa wasn’t that much different in composition from the small, medieval towns dotting the time of Sombra and Nyx 1,000 years earlier. The majority of townspeople lived on the edges of a cluster of buildings serving as marketplace, tavern and the local arm of law/government, along with towns ponies serving smaller but just as vital functions such as blacksmith, undertaker, etc. It was a strangely normal-to-them scene set against the pastoral hillsides and valleys of hundreds of apple trees - until they turned the corner to come upon a strip mall with restaurants, flower shops, bakeries and theaters. If the Umbrum ponies pulling the royal “stagecoach” had been possessed of eyes, they would have been huge, taking in this strange setting they were bringing their masters to!
The scene would have barely registered to Nyx, who had been from the swamps of pre-pony Equestria when the world was new to the hyper-modern, flying carriage time in the far-flung future. In fact, she was lightly dozing from the sonorous vibrations of the coach’s progress and only came completely awake at the sound of Sombra’s voice as he addressed the Umbrum. *Take us to a secluded area where we may leave the carriage,* he ordered.
Nyx stretched and yawned. Now that the sun was setting and the local heat of the day was wearing off, she would be more awake and active, as would Sombra, and if there were any complications in their interaction with the local ponies, they both would have the distinct advantage of darkness on their side in which to defend themselves and/or escape.
The Umbrum shadows cantered, though it was more like gliding, to a stop in an alleyway close to where Nyx pointed out the theater was. Sombra had initially had mixed emotions about making a quiet entrance into negotiations as sneaking into parlay was often considered cowardly by political standards and that was something nopony had ever accused him of being, but in the end he had seen the wisdom of observing these Sith in secret considering how advanced technologically they were, as well since little was known about their strengths, weaknesses and culture.
While he considered this, he heard a rumble behind him. Turning, he was amused to see Nyx frowning, looking down at her belly. Catching his glance, she shrugged. “We have not eaten since the castle, my king. I believe my body has just realized that.”
The TimeWitch peered out the carriage window to beyond the alley. Many passing by appeared to be in garb she recognized from the advertisements about Hoof Wars. “We should grab a bite to eat before going to the theater. The food there is less - nourishing, shall we say, than in the local cafes.”
Sombra saw the logic in her argument, though made a mental note to later ask her why this theater would serve lesser quality food than the local eateries. Grabbing his lightsaber and Nyx’s dagger, they then both stocked up on bits Nyx had procured from her other trips to this current time period and exited the carriage. The king gave the Umbrum instructions to wait with their transportation and orders to alert them of any unusual activity should it occur.
There were many, many ponies in town for the opening of Hoof Wars, a great many of them in robes of the Jedi and the Sith, along with a wide variety of other creatures from Barntroopers to saloon denizens from the many various worlds chronicled in the prior movies. It would have taxed the poor TimeWitch’s memory to explain them all, though she had heard of ponies called “nerds” who were walking catalogs of knowledge and facts - more than she cared to know or bother her king about.
Locating an eatery next to the theater, they opted to dine outside, Sombra taking a seat with his back against the wall of the building out of habit. His consort took the opposite chair, her temporal senses more than up to the task of warning her of any danger should it try to take her by surprise from behind.
The king had chosen a meat dish from the available menu, something called “rattlesnake”. It was not a filling meal, but then he was never one to gorge himself on food and dull his senses before a negotiation. It was served on a bed of vegetables, some of which he recognized, some he didn’t, but it was a pleasant change of pace from the castle food. Even Nyx, who was acting as his taste tester, enjoyed it. Her companion, meal finished, nursed the last of his wine while he drew out his lightsaber, studying its design with a measure of satisfaction.
Nyx looked up suddenly, her eyes rolling. She sighed. “Ugh!” was all she said.
“Hmm?” Sombra hummed, attention reluctantly distracted from his creation. “Problem, my dear?”
“Even when we lay low, we somehow draw the attention of the worst fancolts - “
“Well, howdy, fellow force-users!” a booming stallion’s voice declared behind her. “Welcome to Appleoosa’s Hoof Wars celebration!”
Nyx facehoofed herself, her hoof engulfed deep into the heavily hooded Sith robes.
“That’s a mighty fine weapon you have there, my stallion friend,” he continued, motioning to the Shadow King’s weapon.
“Why thank you,” Sombra acknowledged, nodding slightly. “‘Took but a quick moment to fashion.”
When his companion withdrew her hoof, the newcomer came around into her sight. He was a fair-complexioned stallion of about 25 winters, his coat a golden hue accented with a mane and tail in shades of hay and darker autumn orange. His face was open and friendly, the eyes the greenest Nyx had ever seen. He was quite startlingly handsome in his own way. When she recovered her surprise at her own reaction to his physical appearance, he was happily chattering away, introducing himself. “My name’s Braeburn, friends. We are plum apple happy to be hostin’ this movie opening and to see you an’ all your fellow fans seein’ fit t’ come to our humble little town!”
“The pleasure is ours, Master Braeburn,” the king replied, drawing his hood back just enough the pony could see his face and plain grey unicorn horn. “I am - Darth - Shadow,” he quickly improvised. His gaze turned to Nyx, who also drew her hood slightly back. “And this is my protege, Mistress Nyx. She has a gift for seeing into the future, which makes her quite useful to me,” he added with a touch of pride in his voice.
Nyx grunted, amused at how close to the truth her king was coming to this western pony stranger. She smiled demurely at Braeburn’s reaction to her own physical appearance, especially her dark eyes. “A pleasure, mi’lord Braeburn,” she returned, looking him over in turn. “You are quite the fit specimen. Well toned, handsome.”
This threw the Appleoosan completely off balance as he blushed, looking down at the ground. ‘Well, uh, thank you kindly, ma’am. I’ve - I’ve never seen eyes as dark as yours. They’re quite a sight.”
The TimeWitch grinned wickedly, turning to Sombra. “What do you think my king, um, Lord Shadow,” she corrected. “A male concubine for the - temple,” Nyx resisted the urge to say ‘palace’.
Sombra raised an eyebrow. “Never the one to hide your feelings, are you, my dear witch,” he rumbled, amused.
“Oh, ah,” Braeburn stuttered, breaking into a small laugh. “I am flattered, ma’am. You do get quite into character. I’ve seen that with all you fine folk!” He backed up slightly, bowing quickly. “Well, you have a good time at your movie and be sure to sample the apple fritters while you’re here. We’re the only town in all of Equestria whose movie theaters serve them!” The hay-colored pony backed up a few steps, then beat a hasty and embarrassed retreat back into the crowded streets.
Nyx watched him go, reaching for her robe’s hood to draw it back into place, when Sombra snorted. “A souvenir from this excursion, my dear?”
“Well, you do often work late into the evening on official business, Somby,” she pouted. “And he is rather handsome!”
The Shadow King raised an eyebrow. “I did not think him your type. He is rather - bland and emotionally transparent.”
She watched Braeburn as he greeted another cosplayer close by, Nyx admiring their host’s toned backside and full, golden-hued tail. “Are they not the safer ones, my dark heart? Utterly unable to keep secrets from you?”
“Hmm, you do have a point, I suppose,” Sombra admitted. “He would have to be housed in another section away from the other concubines.” The king glanced briefly at the stallion, nodding. “Or perhaps he could keep them serviced now that my attentions are more fully on you these days.”
Nyx’s head whipped back around to her consort. “You’d share your harem?”
Sombra snorted. “Hardly!” he growled, but found his attention drawn back to the well-proportioned Appleoosan. “He could be tasked with keeping them content.” He downed the rest of his wine, but caught Nyx smiling at him as if she had won some sort of argument. “There is nothing wrong with that!” he grumbled.
Nyx shook her head and turned back to watching their gracious host. Braeburn felt her gaze, looking back over his shoulder. Their eyes met, his caught once again by the exotic glitter in hers. Shaking himself out of their hypnotic draw, he forced himself to continue down the street towards the theater.
“How long before these negotiations begin?” Sombra’s voice shook Nyx out of her contemplation of the native Appleoosan’s well-toned backside.
“Hmm. Oh yes,” she consulted a flyer for the theater against the town clock looming over the other buildings in the strip mall. “About forty-five min - “ she began to say when her vision blurred and she stiffened.
“Nyx, what do you see - “ Sombra felt a ripple in the local timestream surrounding them. Nyx’s hoof shot out to steady herself, finding her mate’s foreleg, hooking over it. The last thing he saw of her before his vision shifted was her eyes glowing a soft, blue-tinged white…
A wave of strangely distorted time hit them, propelling them violently forward.
“This is - different,” Sombra tensed, unable to vocalize exactly what was off about what he was feeling, but knowing for certain the timeline felt skewed somehow. “It feels - wrong.” A strange pressure bore down upon them. Nyx cursed in Umbrum, struggling as she sought to locate their correct timestream.
Ponies were stampeding down the walkway between both sides of the open food court, their panicked cries barely heard above a strange sound King Sombra had never heard before. Similar to the sounds of a unicorn’s magical blasts, there was, however, also something slightly wrong about them...as if they were unnaturally created. Beams of straight, red light sliced the air, some connecting with individuals in the crowd, downing whoever they touched, the smoke and stench of burned hides assaulting their noses.
Just as suddenly, counter-beams of blue/white energies came from the other direction, aimed back at the attackers facing them. The stampede running towards them ducked even more urgently as they galloped, splitting into two groups, hugging the restaurants and shops on either side of the street.
When the fleeing ponies had passed, a wall of invaders in stark white and black battle armor appeared through the choking smoke. The front line were unicorns brandishing strange, black weapons in their magic and this was where the red beams were coming from. The wave immediately behind them were larger, bulkier earth ponies holding strange transparent shields they used at an upwards angle to direct any stray beams from the enemies.
“Nyx!” Sombra yelled above the din of battle.
The TimeWitch’s face was deep in concentration, but the increased pressure from her hoof over his told him she knew he was trying to get her attention. “Hold on!” she yelled, her eyes flaring hotter with her time magic.
She and Sombra turned in the same direction at the same instant, sensing something was about to happen. A foot away, an explosion of wood splinters from a support beam of the building they were in flew at a blindingly accelerated pace, but hit a shield the King had instinctively thrown around them a mere second before when they had started to turn. Once the pony shocktroopers were gone, he was about to dissolve the shield when Nyx called out, “Keep it up!”
An instant later she threw them backwards in time, the wood shards flying in reverse around them, they disappearing before reconnecting with the wooden pillar they had shattered from. The unnatural time stream’s pressure eased, the chaos around them vanished.
Sides heaving, the mare threw her hooves onto the table in front of them, clearly drained from the experience. “That was - not what I had planned for a quiet outing!” she snorted. Looking around, everything was calm and quiet once again - the few others patrons at nearby tables continuing on with their meals and conversations as if they had not been through a small war, which they hadn’t, having been anchored quite firmly in the current timeline, not having been thrown forward like Nyx and Sombra.
A waiter at a nearby table caught her eye. “If you would please, inkeep, your largest - container of water!” she halted herself from saying, “tankard”.
“Make that two, my good pony,” she heard Sombra say above her. Then more directed at her, “Interesting,” he rumbled. “That was not an normal time jump as we have done before, Nyx.”
“No,” his TimeWitch groaned. “We were dragged off course, thrown into another reality.” Her hoof found her head, but her head was not happy about the physical contact. “Oh Goddess, I ache!”
The shadow king was also feeling the effects, but to a lesser extent. “As do I.” he admitted. “The effect from such experiences is rather akin to the morning after a night’s revelry of - “
“ - being plastered dead drunk?” Nyx said wryly from where her face was content to stay against the table’s top. “Yes, I have yet to understand why that is,” she groaned.
“What did we just experience?” Sombra asked and looked around for something out of the ordinary that could perhaps give a clue as to what had happened to them, but it was difficult to spot since so many ponies around them were costumed and many of those carried replicas of the lightsaber Sombra had fashioned for himself, as well as the black, pointed implements that had fired bolts of powerful magic that had slayed those who had been unfortunate enough to be in their line of fire in that future they had just witnessed.
“I think it from us being out of synch with, well…” she fumbled, her senses still spinning and brain aching. She fought to not shake her head, knowing it would kill her to do so. “‘Twas not me, my king.” His consort pulled her face off the table slowly, even more slowly lifting her head as to not increase the pain she was in. “Something - or someone pulled us into an accelerated time eddy, veering our future off course from the normal time stream.” She drew her hood down, reordering her mane, which still twitched and sparked with the dying embers of whatever magics had grabbed them and flung them forward. “And daresay I saw it was a very reckless, untrained attempt at time control!”
Their water containers arrived. The king’s was made short work of by his highness, him downing his in one swallow, despite Nyx warning him not to. True to her warning, he regretted it when minutes later it nearly made him lose his lunch. He would have turned to shadow and reformed his body to rid himself of the sickness if there had not been so many ponies around, so with great annoyance he rode out the nauseas’ effect upon his person, using every ounce of his pride and stubbornness to avoid intimacy with their table’s surface.
The irony of the tables being turned and his head now getting better acquainted with their table were not lost on him as his mate gently stroked his mane, both waiting for the feeling to pass while she took her own drink at a slower, more controlled pace, this despite her body yelling at her to do otherwise.
Once the king trusted his stomach to behave if he opened his mouth, he broke the silence. “These negotiations have the potential to break down in a rather violent fashion,” he observed of the alternate timeline they had witnessed.
“Yes, I do not understand how that could occur,” Nyx muttered, almost to herself. “It’s just a movie - a play,” she corrected herself for Sombra’s sake. “Somepony’s taking it wayyy too seriously.”
“Negotiations are never to be taken lightly, Nyx,” her mate counseled. “These - Sith are dangerous, whatever their intents and desires have incorrectly conveyed to yourself.”
“Perhaps,” she said thoughtfully as the king dragged himself back up, most of the nausea having passed through his body. “If we had not been laid so ill by that trip, I would be tempted to take a peek at what time’s real path has in store for us, but,” she raised a hoof to her own belly. “I believe neither of us are up to it.”
“Yes, and you have said their is a danger in knowing that path as well, yes?”
“True,” she admitted. “And if it be worse, I would not be in haste to know so far ahead. Let us just be careful, Sombra.”
“I am always careful, my consort,” he rumbled, clearly almost over the sick feeling now. “Sharing a bed with you has taught me that well.”
Further down the row of restaurants, the wheat-colored stallion that had greeted them earlier watched the shadow king and his consort, both surprised and concerned at what he had just witnessed. “Well, I’ll be - “ he muttered, but got no further as a hoof on his shoulder from the alley he was next to got his attention. He turned towards it and was pulled into the darkness, out of sight of the oblivious populace of happy, milling cosplayers and locals around him.