A Mortal Dillema

by Queen Sanguine Dreams

First published

King Sombra returns. He is not happy about how it turned out.

The first hint I was given that everything was not going to plan, was a purple alicorn staring at me. The second was a small purple and green dragon baby doing the same, puffing smoke.

The most annoying, was that I was only able to move my head, as the rest of me was locked in place by either spell or magical inhibitors.

This is going to go great!

Frozen Caves and Cocoa

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"Release me this instant, purple alicorn!" I shouted, struggling against my frozen bindings to the floor.

"How about you stay awhile and listen, King Smokey?" The dragon snarked back to me, crossing his claws in front of his chest and looking smug.

I'm not going anywhere. I thought, At least they haven't blasted me back into oblivion like the last time I incarnated.

"State your purpose or release me." I barked at them, annoyed.

The purple alicorn cleared her throat, using her magic to lift an official looking letter in front of my face as she read aloud from memory.

Dear Princess Twilight Sparkle,

It has come to my attention that dark magics are coalescing to the north of the Crystal Empire. I can only imagine the last time such magics were used, and immediately thought of King Sombra.

Really? Only me. What, is there some ban on dark magic?

I am requesting that you investigate this matter personally with the assistance of whomever you deem fit. However, as Sombra is known to possess powerful mind magics, you must bring only those absolutely crucial in dealing with him. We cannot risk losing all of the Elements of Harmony to him, were he to escape.

Hmmph. At least they're correct to worry. I would've already attempted such a thing were it not for these blasted bindings on my hooves and the magic null-ring on my horn.

Please keep this task a secret, as rumors spreading of King Sombra's return would only create a panic.

I trust you completely,

Princess Cadance of the Crystal Empire

There's another alicorn I didn't know about? What, are they breeding like rabbits now or something? Let me guess, I'll walk outside and all unicorns will have ascended into alicorns! The nerve of it.

"Hey, Crystal lover. You there?" The dragon asked, waving a claw too close to my face for comfort. I snarled in reply, and succeeded in startling it. "Well, he's all yours, Twilight." it shrugged after regaining its composure.

"I have an offer for you, King Sombra." She announced without any malice or sarcasm. This perked my interest. Certainly I was in no present position to overpower an Alicorn, but in my prime It had taken both Celestia and Luna to overthrow me.

This was still very irritating and demeaning however. With that at the forefront of my thoughts, I glowered and replied, "Fine. Speak your peace, Princess Twilight."

I can be perfectly nasty if I want to be. I've died twice and earned every right to be bitter.

"Learn how to be a nice pony and make friends, or be banished again." was her ultimatum.

I looked at her skeptically. Seriously? What are you, the Princess of Friendship?

"It is my duty as the Princess of Friendship to give everypony or otherwise a second chance for peace." She continued, quite proud of herself from the looks of it.

I rolled my eyes. Figures. I tempted fate with that one, didn't I? She was staring expectantly at me, and breaking my hooves free had proven fruitless. With an excellent ability for acting, I heaved a defeated sigh. "Very well, Sparkle. I will try this your way." If anything was going to go my way, this fool would instantly believe me and hop around like an escaped lunatic.

Sparkle then looked at me suspiciously, flicking her eyes between myself and my present situation. "I think you're lying."

Drat. I guess I can only tempt fate so many times, then. "Fine, Sparkle. I am serious this time."

The suspicious looks continued.

Then she pulled books from her saddlebags, still glancing at me in suspicion.

She also spoke in hushed tones with her dragon accomplice, still giving me looks. My hooves were starting to freeze.

"Listen, Sparkle Princess of Friendship and Happiness, my body is starting to remind me of its mortality. Can we proceed before the heat death of the universe?" I grumbled.

"How am I supposed to know if you're serious or not?" She asked in an annoyed tone.

"You won't." I replied, annoying her with my cryptic response. While she mulled over whatever she was mulling over, I took the opportunity to observe where I had actually reformed. It was some dark cave, surrounded in frost and cold rock that I don't remember ever placing a Phylactery. No furnishings; no warmth of any kind for when my obviously frail mortal body was going to form. This was problematic. This meant that as soon as these bindings were released, I would probably be as weak as a newborn foal. Further, this explained why I was unable to use my shadowform to simply leave this Alicorn with a dumb look on her face. For now, I would have to actually play the part of... what was it, being reformed? Making friends? I suppose I could pretend to do that until my power regained enough of its former strength.

I was then brought back to reality by the snapping of claws in front of my face from that infantile dragon. I refrained from growling at it again, because I had to keep the long game in mind. Annoying dragons when they're babies tends to beget very large and grudge holding adult dragons. I do not like the fact that I go well with ketchup, and am also crunchy. Therefore, I will refrain from making an enemy of this small dragon whelp.

"You've made your decision?" I asked, blinking away the obnoxiously close talons while trying to move what little of my head I could towards Sparkle.

"I don't like it, but I don't really have any other options jumping out at me." She replied with a reserve of hesitation. Her horn then glowed a bright lavender and covered by entire body, yanking upwards.

"Yaah!" I definitely did not yelp in surprise. It was a dignified, fully menacing growl. If you want to judge others, become a priest.

I was now floating several pony lengths in the air above the alicorn. The small dragon whelp was snickering to itself at the display of me listing aimlessly in the air, floating slightly sideways with a blank expression of annoyance on my face. "Yes, hilarious. Will you release me now?"

I got my wish, as she unceremoniously dumped me onto the cold and hard rock beneath me. I saved myself further embarrassment by not letting out a dignified and menacing growl, and settled for an "Oof!" of losing the air in my lungs.

"I would greatly appreciate your ability to befriend others if I wasn't being tossed about like a rag doll, Sparkle." I wheezed, shakily attempting to stand on my own hooves and failing miserably. Apparently, when you reform your fleshy body after a thousand plus years of not having said fleshy body, you need to do some working out. I was practically jelly at this point, and emphasized this by simply laying on my side.

"I dunno Twilight, he looks like a doll to me." The whelp joked at my expense.

"Haw." was my witty retort. I was still trying to get the air back into my pathetic lungs. Honestly, being a smoke monster is so much more invigorating.

Sparkle then gave a look of curiosity as she loomed over me. "You're not like I imagined you would be, King Sombra." she stated.

"How is that? Did you expect me to rave on and on about crystals?"

Twilight and the Whelp shared a look before answering. "Actually... yeah." The whelp replied.

I raised an eyebrow and Twilight continued, "When you were partially formed, all you ever said was 'Crystal.' "

"Mmmph. When you experiment with Necromancy, please tell me how attempting to store all of your arcane knowledge in addition to your personality goes. I'd love to compare notes."

She then got the most absurd starry look in her eye, as her dragon companion covered his face with his claw. "Now you've done it." it grumbled.

"You mean we can study magic together?!" She asked in awed excitement.

Oh grief, I think I went too far. She's seriously giving me a 'I really love books and everything to do with learning' look. Should I abort, or continue with this debacle to gain her favor? Eh, favor it is.

"Yes. Sure." I replied with a correct amount of apathy and or miserableness for the situation, which allowed her to promptly freak out, shouting 'yesyesyes' in a completely undignified display that was embarrassing for all to witness. I will spare you the details, but I will at least inform you of the several minutes it took to calm her down.

Taking a deep breath as per instructed by her companion, Twilight regained herself. "Hookay. Um, sorry about that." She giggled nervously, "Are you able to walk?"

Attempting to find out, I successfully managed to park my flank in an upright position and steady myself on wobbling forehooves. "This... is about as good as I'm going to get." I admitted. At this point, I just wanted to be warm again. Curse my frail mortal form or what have you, but being in a frozen cave in the middle of nowhere is absurd, uncomfortable and downright uncouth. The faster we left this place, the better.

"I think we'll be able to get back to the Crystal Empire before nightfall if I just carry you." Sparkle announced, promptly picking me up once more in a field of magic and floating me alongside her. At least this was better than nearly a story in the air like last time.

"So, come here often?" The whelp joked once more. I decided that comment wasn't worthy of a response, and promptly ignored him. Twilight, however, giggled in appreciation.

Our exit from the cave was uneventful to say the least. Nearly a half kilotrot of nothing but ice and rock, followed by a large entryway that looked recently excavated by force. I assumed it to have been accomplished by the magic of the alicorn currently holding me above her, and it was later bragged about by the Whelp. I also learned that the Whelp was a 'he' named 'Spike'. Far be it from me to claim knowledge of how to name a dragon, but it sounded like something a foal would come up with on the spot.

After the cave entrance, the Whelp- Spike... sat on the back of his master as I floated alongside them above the snow. She donned a scarf and some boots along with a face mask for protection against snow blindness. I was not given anything, as my armoring and cape had miraculously come along with me for the ride when I was reincarnated. Thankfully, it served a purpose of keeping me warm, stylish and protected from blunt or sharp instruments of assassination and death. I doubted the ponies of this time were as... direct in their protests as they had been in mine, but it always pays to be prepared.

Unless the alicorns of the Sun and Moon are dropping out of the sky onto your face, wielding rainbows of doom out of nowhere. One cannot prepare for that happenstance without knowledge prior. Besides, how was I to know that some random uprising leaders were alicorns? I had assumed they were disillusioned nobles from yet another political faction attempting to overthrow me.

"You sure zone out alot." Spike commented, shielding his face against the sudden snowstorm that had happened without my realizing. Apparently we had made significant distance while I was reminiscing to nopony in particular, as I often narrate my own life. I find it to be a relaxing pass-time and hobby.

"Where are we?" I asked in a loud enough voice to cut through the howling winds.

"I should be close enough to teleport us!" Twilight yelled over her side towards me.

"No, Wa-"


"-aiiUUUHH!" I protested, before the teleportation promptly forced me to dry heave in the air. In surprise or disgust, Twilight lost concentration of me and I quickly fell into the snow up to my neck, continuing to heave for a few more moments.

"Oh no, are you okay?!" Twilight asked in a panic, looking around to see if anypony had noticed. "Just one more teleport, and we'll be safe, okay?"



"-ooOUUHH!" I replied in pain, being dumped onto a warm and carpeted floor next to a lit fireplace. My armor clanked against the crystalline floor during my fall, and I simply lay there in spasms as Twilight continued to freak out.

"Oh no oh no! What If I killed him?!"

"Twilight, snap out of it!" Spike insisted.

"What if Cadance comes back and finds Sombra on her floor!?"


"What if I get banished to the moon for committing murder?!"


An echoing slap had cut off her babble, and allowed me to regain control of my weak self in relative peace as she nursed her cheek.

"Thanks, Spike." She said in a mellow voice.

"No problem, Twilight. You get crazy when you're stressed out, and we just walked through a blizzard after confronting King Sombra of all ponies." He reassured her. It was somewhat sweet, but also very weak of the two of them. How would they survive in the world if they constantly coddled another? Everypony knew that only the strong would survive the harshness of reality. I would know, I've done so at least three times now.

"King Sombra?" Twilight asked.

Holding a hoof to my mouth after attempting to speak proved to be a wise choice, as my body nearly heaved up exactly nothing once more.

"Um... could you get us some food and hot Cocoa, Spike?" Twilight asked.

"I'm on it!" The dragon replied dutifully, his padding claws scraping against the crystal floor as he ran off to who knows where in search of whatever Cocoa was.

I lay there on the floor, heaving and involuntarily shivering from the cold that had attached itself to my clothing. Apparently I had forgotten to enchant my armor and clothes to resist temperature changes, and they had been soaked to the last strand of fabric in wet snow. Twilight must have taken notice of my state, as the constant clanking and scratching of shivering combined with armor would've gotten on anypony's nerve.

I had been expecting some snarky jab at my misfortune, and was thus pleasantly surprised when a warm blanket was draped over my body. I was able to shift my head enough to get a sideways look at Twilight whom was standing over me with a content smile on her face.

"Better?" She asked.

I opted to not waste energy replying and simply rested my head on the soft carpet, staring into the flickering fireplace. My breathing began to even out as I stopped being sick from the sudden teleportations; A magic that I had avoided due to its reaction to me. I had never grasped a hold of it in the first place, and the possibility of teleporting into a wall gave me enough reason to drop the pursuit entirely. I much preferred the slow but secure advance of moving through the shadows anyway. It was far easier to for me to use regardless.

"Twilight?" I heard Spike call into the room.

"Over here, Spike." Sparkle answered, having somehow laid nearby without my noticing. Either my memories coming back by peace-meal was more jarring than I had anticipated, or I was severely affected by the cold. The dragon then walked in front of my view and blocked the fireplace with his pudgy body of scales, holding cups of some kind. He waddled up to myself and his master, setting down the cups in front of us.

"Here you go. I'm gonna go back and get my own and a plate of sandwiches for everypony." Spike informed us, before leaving in a hurry. I stared at the cup in front of me, unable to lift it due to the magic null-ring around my horn. Perhaps this was meant to be some kind of punishment?

"Oh! I'm sorry, I completely forgot that you couldn't lift your mug without magic. Eheh..." Twilight said, confirming that she was simply aloof instead of malicious. "Do you want to try a sip?" She asked, lifting a second mug with her magic towards me.

Figuring I needed at least something in this body to keep it going, I nodded and attempted to sit upright. This failed almost immediately as I flopped back onto the now present rug beneath me. I then decided to provide a verbal confirmation to the best of my present ability.

"Blehf." I muttered, disturbing some of the carpeting in addition to my nose-based huff of annoyance at my frail state. I was unaware of a face that Twilight was making until a noise from her drew my attention. I hadn't seen what kind of expression It was before, but she quickly looked elsewhere when she noticed I had seen it.

"Here, let me help you." She said, lifting me upright in her magic and propping me against a chair next to the fireplace. I assumed that I wasn't placed into the chair due to my soaked predicament, and nopony wants a soaked chair. I could respect that at least. "Be careful with the Cocoa, it's hot." She warned, lifting the mug towards me as I took it in my hooves. Thankfully I was strong enough to not dump the soft brown and white substance all over myself.

I eyed the drink with suspicion. "What is this?" I asked. It looked like some kind of witch's brew with how it swirled around in the center to some unseen drain to nowhere. I also sniffed it, and received some strange scent of mystery.

"You've never had hot chocolate before?" she asked in a somewhat impressed manner.

"I've had hot before. I've never seen this 'chocolate' you speak of. Is it edible?" I asked, once more looking to my drink as if it were poison.

This caused Sparkle to giggle at me for some reason and lift her mug closer to her own lips. "You tell me!" She said excitedly, sipping her drink and staring at me intently.

Despite her lack of personal space awareness and knowledge that staring is rude, I tentatively took a sip of the--

"WHAA!?" I yelped in surprise. The taste was unlike anything I'd ever had before and after a slight period of recovery and calming myself, I quickly chugged what remained of the deliciousness. Heat and burns be thrown to Tartarus, this stuff is excellent! My wide eyed expression when tasting the drink must've been hilarious for some reason, as Twilight barely set down her mug before laughing at my reaction.

"What's wrong?!" Spike yelled, leaping into the room as well as his tiny legs could allow him. He failed miserably at appearing heroic, but the effort was what mattered. I would give it at least a five.

"Spike, do you have more cocoa?" Twilight asked between chuckles. She pointed towards me with a hoof, and I looked confusedly between the dragon and the alicorn.

Spike's reaction to seeing me was additional laughter, and I was beginning to wonder what was wrong. I tried to lift a nearby mirror from the wall with my magic, before a painful lance reminded me of the Null-ring still on my horn. Recovering, I decided to remain silent about my curiosity. Whatever was going on was making them drop their guard and would allow my eventual escape to be all that much easier.

"Yeah, lemme get some more. I hope Cadance doesn't mind how much we're using." Spike replied after regaining himself. He left a plate of sandwiches and a mug of cocoa on a nearby half-table for resting drinks. I was staring at the cup of cocoa, completely oblivious to my complaining stomach.

"Do you want a sandwich, Sombra?" Twilight asked, levitating one near me. I didn't care about a foolish sandwich. All I wanted was...

"Cocoa..." I nearly drooled before catching myself. I had leaned forward as if in a trance without my realizing, and Twilight was once again amused at something I had done.

"You're a stallion of few words, King Sombra." Twilight commented, insisting that I eat the sandwich.

I'm a stallion of great many words! It isn't my fault that you're unable to hear them is all. Well, I mean it is, because I'm not voicing them aloud... Nevermind! I'm perfectly content with how I operate myself. I thought, eyeing the sandwich with suspicion as my internal dialogue went on.

"It's not poisoned, if that's what you're thinking. It wouldn't make much sense for the Princess of Friendship to go around assassinating ponies." she added with some slight annoyance in her voice as my suspicions.

"Hmmph." Was my articulate reply. I took hold of the sandwich with my armored forehooves that had been thankfully spared most of the filth of the journey and set it down on the table. I then lifted each piece individually to check for strange spices or things I was not familiar with. Flicking my eyes between a now visibly annoyed Twilight and the suspect sandwich, I finally relented and allowed myself a bite.

Spinach, tomato, wheat bread...yuck. Hmm... oh! Olives are unexpected, and is that... no. Rose petals? I thought as I ate. What, like I'm going to check a sandwich for what I know should be on a sandwich. Please. My range of expressions to what I was eating seemed to please Sparkle as she left me alone for awhile to search for Spike. After a while I finished the sandwich and found it to be a well crafted if simplistic meal. What Sparkle had failed to realize in her rush, is that she had left the most important thing she could possibly have left behind.

"Cocoa..." I involuntarily announced, leaning forward inch by inch and attempting to not fall on my face once more from my weakened state. Various bread crumbs had fallen onto my attire, but I didn't care about how much of a peasant I looked like at the moment. There was Cocoa to be had!

Alright, be careful about this. Forehooves first, wide base. Inch forward a bit and steady... Gah, this body is so weak! Alright, enough complaining. Inch forward, scoot. Inch forward, scoot. Inch forwa-

"King Sombra?" A new voice asked in a surprised tone, causing me to jolt from my mental exercises of Cocoa acquisition. This interruption also had the unfortunate effect of startling me.

"Yaah!" I growled in a dignified manner. Yes I'm going to keep saying that no matter what you think of me, unnamed voice of cynicism in my head. I don't care if it's really a yelp. It's my head, and I'll narrate it how I see fit!

From my newfound position of being on the floor and out of reach of the delicious Cocoa, I was presented with yet another Alicorn. This one was pinkish in coat with a range of colors bright enough to bake a cake with. Pinks, violets and creams. She also had the Crystal Heart on her flank... My eyes narrowed in suspicion. Haven't I seen you before?

Her expression drooped into one of unamused grump. "I'll take that as a 'yes.'" She then walked towards me cautiously for some reason, and stopped just short a few hooves from me. She then looked between myself with my helpless position, and the cup of Cocoa I had been attempting to reach. "You like hot cocoa?" She asked while raising an eyebrow at me.

I bit my lips, looking between her and the cocoa.

She looked at me mischievously, eyeing my precious cocoa and lifting it with her magic. I tried to lunge for the drink, but my despicable frail body failed me once again and I only managed to shift slightly towards her and let out a pitiful, "Nuh." I swear I was more intimidating than this a millennium ago. This is absolutely abhorrent behavior coming from me.

"No being evil, and I'll let you have Cocoa. Deal?" She asked, tilting the drink dangerously from side to side and threatening to spill it everywhere. I gulped and then nodded as fast as my body would allow. She then chuckled to herself and set the cocoa down on the table within my reach. I quickly but carefully took hold of the drink and chose to savor its flavor this time instead of chugging it like some uncouth bar crawling peasant.

"It was nice meeting you, surprisingly." the alicorn said finally, making for the door. "I have a few things I need to do before we have a proper discussion. For now, how about you get some rest?"

Is this idiot serious? She's just going to leave me alone in the middle of her castle, unsupervised? I mean, yes... My body is practically a cooked noodle at this point and I have no ability to use my magic; Contemptible contraption needing magic to take it off when it's only a simple ring on my horn...

She sighed, "You don't talk much, do you?"

This again? "I speak." I spoke. Obviously.

Her face lit up in surprise. "You said something! It wasn't even 'Crystaaallll' either!" She mocked with a poor imitation of my voice.

"Hmmph." Was my annoyed response.

She breathed a disappointed sigh and moved for the door. "We'll talk later then. Nice mustache, by the way." she said before leaving.

I didn't remember having a mustache, so I assumed that she was simply playing mind games with me. Now it was just myself and a warm mug of delicious cocoa. Well, the blanket around me was present too I suppose.

"Yaaaahh..." I yawned unexpectedly. Did I seriously just yawn like that? It sounded like some tired foal refusing to go to sleep. Maybe I could practice and come up with some better yawn that was more regal. I was a King after all... Well. Actually... King of what? The Crystal Empire is run by that Pink alicorn, and possibly with Sparkle as well. Though if they were together there wouldn't be a need for a letter...

Breathing deeply and enjoying the smell of the Cocoa I quickly realized that I was, in fact, exhausted from being returned from the dead and dragged through a blizzard as well as being dropped a story onto rock. I definitely deserve a bit of rest. The only problem was that the door was still unlocked...

Setting the cocoa down and trying to stand on my hooves, I quickly discovered my folly of attempting to push myself further while in a very weakened state. I slumped forward and the weight of my armor was too great for me to re-balance myself. I fell forward onto my face and chest with my flank sticking into the air before falling sideways onto the carpeting.

I tried. That's all that matters. If they want to kill me in my sleep, they could've done it before I was incarnated.

"Aaaah..." I yawned again, still sounding foalish.

Whatever. I'll work on it later. The time for sleep is now.

With that, I pulled my blanket closer to me and fashioned it into a makeshift pillow on the soft carpet. With the smell of delicious cocoa, I quickly drifted off to sleep.


Null-Rings and Acting Classes

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I was awoken by the sounds of quiet speech and decided it would be best to pretend I was still asleep.

"What do you mean he just passed out on the floor? Didn't you take him to a bed or something?" It sounded like the Pink alicorn said.

"It's not my fault! I had a lot of letters to write to Princess Celestia about this whole thing." Twilight replied.

"I thought we were keeping this a secret?!" Pink hissed.

"We are! Just you, Celestia, Spike and myself know about King Sombra's return."

"Psh, at least until she tells Luna. Everypony knows that mare just doesn't take surprises well."

"So what? It's not like anypony can hold anything against him. All Sombra's done is drink Cocoa and fall asleep on the floor." Spike pointed out.

"He enslaved an entire country to do his bidding! Of course there's things we can 'do' about him!"

"That was over a thousand years ago, Cadance."

"Alright, so what about a few years ago?"

"He wasn't even fully formed. It was probably a malfunctioning Phylactery."

Actually no, that was entirely me. I just don't remember much of that very well. It was one of the Phylacteries I used that was more spells than personality. I don't know what Sparkle did, but she seems to have combined several of my Phylacteries in order to fully reincarnate me. I should probably thank her for that later before I enslave her as well.

"Do you think we should be discussing something like this right outside his door?" Spike asked the both of them. "I mean, he could be awake right now and listening to us."

Smart dragon.

"I'm sure he's exhausted from yesterday. I'll check in on him anyway, though." Twilight assured the others.

"Alright. I'm gonna go make sandwiches. I'm starving!" Spike announced, and the scratching of his clawed feet faded down the hall.

"Do you think he's going to be recovered enough for conversation? He didn't talk much at all yesterday." Pink asked.

"It might just be part of his personality. I should ask Princess Celestia if he talked a lot when she fought him."

No, I was too busy being surprised to actually have a witty comeback at the moment. I would've had a great many things to say if I hadn't been obliterated by rainbows.

"Should you knock, or should I?"

"Cadance, it's your castle." Twilight pointed out.

So, the Pink alicorn is Princess Cadance then. Good to know.

"Right, Right." A momentary pause, then three sharp knocks.

Pretend to be asleep and wait for a few more knocks before answering. Then they won't suspect a thing.

Three sharper knocks.

A pause.

Three more louder knocks.

That should be good.

"Hmm, What?" I replied loud enough to be heard through the door.

"Are you awake?" Twilight called through the door.

No. In fact, I am still asleep. Thank you for asking my unconscious body that just answered you, Twilight. "Yes, I am awake." I grumbled, shifting my position on the floor to attempt and stand. To my surprise, I was doing a great deal better this morning. Perhaps some of my enchantments had survived over the years. I wasn't going to be doing back flips anytime soon, but I was able to walk around well enough. Running was out of the question however.

"May we come in?" Cadance asked.

Nay, this is my castle! I will use all of my non-accessible power to bore you to death, should you enter! "Yes." Was my simple reply.

The double crystalline doors then swung open and revealed the two alicorns. Both of them seemed prepared for me to attack them for some reason. Upon seeing me standing on my hooves and slightly wobbling however, they saw fit to relax.

"Are you okay?" Twilight asked as the two walked into the room.

I've only just come back from the dead for a third time. I've also been floated through a blizzard with no protection and slept on the floor! I am doing marvelous! "Fine."

Cadance and Twilight both made scrunchy faces while sharing a look. "I told you he doesn't talk much!" Cadance whispered.

I rolled my eyes at their lack of tact for speaking about me in front of my face like I was not there. "Why have you come here; to bother me?" I asked.

"We... wanted to see how well you were doing." Twilight nervously explained before nudging Princess Cadance.

"You're not planning on anything evil, are you?" Cadance bluntly asked, which caused Twilight to cover her face with a hoof.

Why yes! I was planning on immediately going back to a life of enslaving others to do my bidding and prance around the castle singing at random with how well everything was going for me at the moment. "No?" I looked to Twilight. "I was under the impression that allies do not accuse each other of plots to their face."

"We're not accusing you of anything!" Twilight quickly amended, "We're just worried about you is all!"

I suppose Princess Celestia is going to appear out of nowhere and give me a birthday gift now, correct? That would be equally unlikely. "I am recovering, Sparkle." I replied in a tired manner. "Is there something else you wished to ask of me?"

"Are you recovered enough to have a talk with Princess Cadance and I?"

For a talk, certainly. We're talking right now. I could use this to my advantage however. I suspect that the Magic Null-ring on my horn has been interfering with my enchantments and forcing me to recover normally. If I was able to have the ring removed for a mere five seconds I would be able to regain a small portion of my former power. Unfortunately, this ploy would be far too obvious. I will have to play the long game as I have with the dragon Spike. She will not directly trust me if I ask to have it removed entirely, and Princess Cadance will intervene and annihilate me if I were to try anything malicious. No, I must use her naivety to my advantage.

"I would be willing to speak, but first I have a request." I replied. "This null-ring," I pointed to it with my right hoof, "Is causing my enchantments to not function correctly. I understand your reluctance to remove it entirely, but I have something of a 'trust exercise' we could perform, if you are interested." I smiled reassuringly. At least I hoped so. My sharpened teeth tended to shine a negative light on that particular aspect of my facial structure. Cursed dark magic warping my soul.

"No way." Princess Cadance immediately replied, taking up an aggressive stance. "Don't give him the chance, Twilight." She warned wisely.

"You're the Princess of Friendship, correct? I'm attempting to gain your trust, Twilight Sparkle. Will you allow me that at least?"

"He's just trying to trick you!" Cadance insisted, which irritated me. I was now hoping on Twilight's aloof nature to grant my request.

"What if he's serious about this, Cadance?" Twilight asked uncertainly.

While the two bickered, I planned my next move. Alright, she's only going to give me barely five seconds. I will have to do something flashy to draw their attention away from the Null-Ring while it's removed. If they're focused on me, then they won't notice my tampering with the device. Blinding Light? No, too flashy. I could simply go with a Vortex of Shadow around me. Yes... that will work. I won't regain as much power as I would like, but it will allow me enough time to render the Null-Ring functionally hindered. It will then be able to recover my full strength in less than a week instead of remaining permanently helpless as long as the ring stays on me. Then I will be able to simply take off the ring with my own power and enslave these fools.

"King Sombra, I have to ask you something." Twilight asked me. Honestly, why does everypony ask somepony a question if they're asking them if they can ask a question?

"Yes, Twilight?" I replied.

"I have to have some kind of assurance that you won't immediately attempt to mind control us."

That's not a question, Sparkle. "What did you have in mind?"

Twilight and Cadance shared a quick glance. "If you try anything, we'll never tell you how to make Princess Cadance's special brew of Hot Cocoa."

There are types of that beverage?! I thought there was only the one! Wait, I'm getting sidetracked. As delicious as Cocoa may be, I can always enslave them later and simply force them to make it for me.

"Very well, Sparkle." I held up my left hoof. "I, King Sombra, Do swear to not betray you during the period of five seconds that the Magic Null-Ring is to be removed on penalty of 'No more cocoa.' " I swore.

"Wow, that actually worked."

"If he can keep his word. He is a villain after all."

Are they serious? "You know I can hear you. You're standing right in front of me."

The two shared an embarrassed smile and apologized. "Alright..." Twilight began. "Let's remove that ring!"

Her horn lit up in a glow of purple magic and I felt the tug of mana on my horn as the ring pulled away.

"One." She counted up. I quickly went to work in turning what little mana I had into the beginnings of a swirling shadow vortex.

"Two..." She continued, growing quickly worried. The shadows were beginning to obscure the light from the nearby windows and made it difficult for them to see. My eyes began to glow green.

"Three..." She nervously added, looking around in fright while Cadance grew angry. "You promised!" She yelled over the growing maelstrom of shadow.

"Four..." I had successfully tampered with the Null-Ring, though it was sloppy. If she inspected it at all, I would be found out. At least I could remove it later when nopony was around to observe me now.

"Five!" Twilight yelled, slamming the null-ring onto my horn and causing a severe magical whiplash. I was sent flying backwards into a crystalline wall hard enough that a painting was knocked loose and impaled itself on my horn, wrapping around my neck. A nearby shelf also dropped a lit candle which sputtered, spilling wax everywhere. Nothing caught fire, as the floor in that area was crystal instead of carpet.

Still reeling from the backlash, I gave a weak "I told you! I am completely trustworthy!" before coughing out a bit of shadow that had formed in my lungs. The glowing green of my eyes had been snuffed out entirely when the ring came back on, but I could still feel my power growing steadily within me. I had succeeded, if only barely.

"Does that happen all the time?" Twilight asked, taking in the devastated interior of the room. Chairs were flipped over, blinds and curtains were a mess, the sheets on the bed that I hadn't noticed until now were strewn across the floor and several glasses had shattered from the Vortex's power.

Every time I wake up! It must be dark magic of some kind, I swear! "Yes, although it depends on how long I have been forced to exist without my magic." I replied.

"Oh no!" Twilight gasped, finally seeing my current situation against a fractured wall. "Are you alright?" She asked, trotting quickly up to me and removing the ruined painting from around my neck.

I looked up into her eyes with another smile of mine. From her reaction, I should stop smiling. "I am better than before, Sparkle."

"Hey guys, I'm ba- Whoa!" Spike announced with his entrance before nearly dropping a plate loaded with sandwiches to the ground upon seeing the state of the room. "What happened!?"

"Twilight took Sombra's null-ring off for all of five seconds." Cadance explained with some amount of annoyance.

"Did he try to fight you two or something?"

"No, he just stood there and collected power for the time." Twilight said with surprise in her voice. "Honestly I was expecting an attack or something, but he just... did what he said he was going to do." She then rewarded me with a smile.

I technically didn't even break my promise. I didn't betray Twilight when I tampered with the Null-ring. I betrayed the Null-ring's trust in me. We had eaten sandwiches together and gone through a blizzard after all. Poor arcane device.

I picked myself off of the floor quite energetically, startling the alicorns and Spike with my vigor. "Now, You wished to discuss something?"

It took a moment for Cadance to reorganize her thoughts. "Yes..." She then shook her head for a moment, clearing whatever fog had come over her mind from being knocked out of her comfort zone. "I wanted to talk to you about Twilight's plan for the two of you to become friends."

Oh, just that? I thought this was going to be something important. "What of it?"

"We've already informed Princess Celestia of your return, so she'll be keeping a close eye on you. With that in mind, I don't think you're going to learn much about friendship being stuck in my castle for the rest of your 'reformation period'." she verbally air-quoted.

"We've been talking, and I was thinking about having you live in my castle in Ponyville. There's a lot more ponies to interact with, and not as many of them will be aware of who you are as they will in the Crystal Empire." Twilight added.

Suddenly, a knocking at the door drew all of our immediate attentions. "Hey, is everything alright in here?" I heard a stallion's voice call out.

"Oh no, It's Shining Armor!" Spike whispered.

Oh, that's right. They didn't tell anypony else except those in the room and Celestia. If some guard comes through the door then I know what to do. Acting classes have paid off in droves by now. Thank you, Miss Opera House.

"What do we do?" Twilight whispered to Cadance.

"We answer him, of course." I replied, walking towards the door.

"Sombra, don't!" Cadance hissed.

Moving my hoof to the handle, I pulled the door open non-nonchalantly to face whomever this Shining Armor was.

"King Sombra?!" He yelled, before pouncing on top of me in full armor. The two of us rolled backwards into the room and abruptly stopped when my back hit the frame of the bed.

Time for some Improvisation. Higher pitched voice, slight panic and worry... maybe a few stutters of surprise should do.

"S-shining Armor? It's an honor to meet you!" I appropriately stuttered. My voice was disguised enough that I would appear to be a stallion in the late years of my youth. My demeanor had changed to one of meek surprise instead of commanding authority and I had altered my mannerisms in kind.

It worked for the most part, confusing Shining Armor. "Huh?" He looked over towards Princess Cadance. "Uh, Cadance? What's going on?"

I quickly butted in before the alicorn could reply. "The Princess hired me for a play that she's been working on in secret! Ah, oops!" I added with fake embarrassment while covering my mouth and offering a look of guilty alarm towards Cadance.

Cadance, Twilight and Spike's mouths had all decided they didn't feel like operating correctly for the moment. They were all dropped loosely and attempting to form some kind of verbal reply.

"Prince Armor? Would you mind getting off of me?" I asked Shining Armor, hoping that he would be called a Prince in this time period instead of something else.

His attention refocused on me and our current positioning of him on top of me, and blushed briefly before moving off of me. "I'm sorry! I didn't know anything about this. Cadance has been really sneaky lately about things. I didn't know it would be a play though. That's new for you." He smiled proudly.

"Y-yes! A play!" Cadance finally spoke, "I was just going over... his lines!"

My lines. Are you serious? What, is there a hundred different ways I could say 'Crystal' or something? I refrained from showing my feelings of despair from her poor attempt at an excuse, but Shining Armor took them at face value regardless.

"Well, I'm sorry to barge in here like-- Wait, what happened in here?" he asked, looking around the mostly destroyed and messy room.

I spoke up, pointing to the null-ring on my horn. "I'm not that practiced with magic and there was a little 'accident', Eheh..." I nervously chuckled for effect.

"Right... I had one in my saddlebags-- For study!" Twilight added a bit too eagerly while nodding.

"Well, you should go to school to learn more about how to control your magic if you're wielding that kind of power there, Mister...?"

Quick! Think of an appropriate name for an actor!

"Stage Write!" I offered a hoof to shake with a smile, which unnerved him. "Oh! Don't worry about the teeth. They're fake." This cheerful demeanor is taxing me. I hope he leaves soon.

"Nice to meet you, Stage Write. Sorry about tackling you earlier. You make a very convincing King Sombra!" He smiled, shaking my hoof.

"Thank you for the compliment, Shining Armor. It was a pleasure to meet you!"

Shining then looked to Spike, Twilight and Cadance. "Everything okay in here with the room?" He motioned to the various destroyed objects.

"We'll be fine, Shiny. Thanks for checking up on us." Cadance replied warmly.

"You four have fun!" Shining called, leaving the room to do whatever it was that Princes do.

As the door shut, the three others in the room slumped to the floor in relief. "Wooo!" Spike tiredly exclaimed.

"That was close!" Twilight agreed.

"Where did you learn to act like that?" Cadance asked me.

"A Wizard never reveals his secrets." I replied cryptically, while proudly placing a hoof on my armored chest.

"I thought you were a necromancer?" Spike pointed out.

This deflated my ego a bit. Here I was, being all smug, and this dragon had to shoot me down. "Whatever." I grumbled, placing my hoof on the floor.

"Now that we're not in danger of an angry Shining Armor, what about him living with us in Ponyville again?" Spike asked, bringing us back to the reason for our conversation.

"Oh!" Twilight chirped. "Well, the only ponies that are going to know who King Sombra is, is all my friends. All we have to do is give Sombra a disguise and it should work out fine!"

Seriously? A disguise? "You expect a disguise to fool somepony into not recognizing me?" I asked in surprise.

"I could see it working. We just need to take off all your armor, your cloak and your crown. Then nopony would know it was you!"

"Not happening." I insisted.

"Come on, It's just clothing!" Spike jabbed.


"What's the matter, afraid of walking around naked like the rest of us?" Cadance joined in with a childish tone.

"N-no." I accidentally stammered.

"Uh oh! Sombra's afraid of being naked in public!" Spike teased.

"It's not like that." I tried to calmly insist. This is getting out of hoof quickly. If only I had my magic!

"I'll bet it is! You're probably hiding something really embarrassing under that cloak, aren't you?" Twilight joined in the group teasing of me.

I backed away from the group of hungry looking beings in front of me, swiftly being betrayed by the wall behind me. With my flank pressed against it and no way out, I was doomed.

"I'm warning you!"

Twilight used her magic to lift me into the air. I felt it tugging at my armor straps and desperately tried to hold on to what I could, but to no success. Eventually even my cloak was tossed from me, leaving me naked like the rest of these peasants.

"Happy?" I grumbled, expecting gasps of shock or giggling at my expense.

"Whoa... that's a cool cutie-mark!" Spike commented.

Wait, what?! I quickly tried to look around at my flank and only succeeded in spinning around helplessly in the air.

"Sombra? Are you okay?" Twilight asked, setting me down on the ground carefully. "I'm sorry if we teased you too much. We were just trying to get you out of your shell."

I didn't care what Twilight was saying, as I was too busy looking at my flank in awe. There, upon my once bare flank that I had hidden with great shame, was a cutie-mark. Black crystals sticking out of a Phylactery with an ethereal wisp circling it. No... My special talent can't be...

"What does it mean, Sombra?" Cadance asked.

I looked up at the three whom were expectantly awaiting my reply. "It means that my special talent is coming back from the dead."

Twilight's recoiled a bit. "Seriously?"

"That's kinda cool, actually." Spike commented.

"Does that mean you'll never die permanently?" Cadance asked, worried.

"Your guess is as good as mine." I replied, standing on my hooves and looking at them with a controlled expression. I may be naked, but I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of seeing me uncomfortable.

"So how do we disguise him? He's pretty iconic around here, and we still have to go to the Train station to get him to Ponyville." Spike pointed out.

"Um... let me see..." Twilight replied while rooting through her saddlebags.

I rolled my eyes. This will be good. Let's see what's in the goodie bag for ol' Sombra today!

"Aha!" She declared, lifting a pair of reading glasses and a news-colt hat from her bag. "This will work perfectly!"

A hat and glasses, Really? "You expect that to fool anypony?" I asked in disbelief.

"Let's see how it looks, first." Twilight agreed, and placed the two items on me. The hat was slightly off to the left, irritating my ear. The glasses fit well enough, but I pushed them further down my muzzle as the prescription was harming my eyes.

"Well?" I asked in annoyance.


"Perfect!" Twilight, Cadance and Spike all announced with joy at once.

Seriously? "Do you have a mirror?"

"Yeah, it's right here." Spike went to Twilight's saddlebags and hefted out a small mirror for me to see my reflection. Surprisingly, I did seem to be a different pony.

"There is no way this is going to work for long." I pointed out.

"Well, you're good at acting, right?"


"Then just play the part! You said your name was Stage Write earlier, so be him!"

I don't like where this is going.

"If I am going to wander around with you Sparkle, I am going to be myself. You're not 'rehabilitating' a playwright, after all." I countered.

"Hmm... that's true. If anypony asks, your name is Play Write, okay? If you say you're King Sombra, then word will spread of your return either through ponies asking about you, or through rumors getting to the wrong ponies." Twilight allowed.

"Fine, Sparkle. Now what?"

"Well, I already have the tickets for us. Next stop, Ponyville!" She eagerly cheered.

Fate, I tempt you.

This can't possibly go wrong.

Princesses and Trains

View Online

"Alright, let's look at the plan!" Twilight cheerfully declared. She, Spike and myself were gathered around a small circular crystal table that was covered in various scrolls and checklists. I spared a glance towards Spike and noted a look of determination on him and quill in his claw.

They're taking this a bit serious, aren't they?

"First, we're going to place all of your enchanted armoring, crown and cape inside of a travel case since you can't wear all of that here without causing a panic." She motioned with a hoof towards the case she had mentioned. "Then, we're going to send Spike through the city ahead of us towards the square. That should attract any fan-ponies that would otherwise cause us to get trapped in a sea of scrutiny." She pointed at a spot on the map that looked close to the castle. If I remember right, it's the place that I would usually overlook from my balcony. "When the crystal ponies are distracted, Sombra and I will sneak out through the side entrance here," She pointed to an exit on the opposite end of the castle, "and then we'll swing around this way through the garden district." She pointed to a fourth of the Empire that was dedicated to agriculture and harvesting. "At that point, Spike should have a sizeable crowd of ponies. We should be able to easily walk past any ponies that haven't been attracted by Spike. If we run into any problems, I'll cause a distraction and teleport us out."

"Bu-" I began to protest, before a hoof was placed on my mouth.

"I know you hate teleporting, but it's a last resort. We can't risk ponies getting caught up in a big mob if we're going to make it to the train station. Besides, If I'm forced to teleport you, I'll give you as much hot cocoa as you want." She smiled.

Well... I suppose I can deal with some teleportation if it's a last resort and cocoa is involved. I nodded and she removed her hoof.

"When Sombra is safely on board the train, I'll head back and grab Spike. The travel case should stay with Sombra at all times, since we can't let anypony else get a hold of them."

"Agreed." I wouldn't want to wear the clothing or armor after another pony had worn it anyway. I wonder if peasants have even discovered bathing yet.

"Any questions?" Twilight asked.

Spike motioned with his quill to the rest of the checklists and papers on the table. "Yeah, what's all that stuff for?"

Twilight then looked at the papers, scanning through them with flickering eyes for a moment. "Oh, those are just a few things the Princess wanted me to look out for. I wouldn't worry about it."

There must be at least ten lists, each longer than a pony across. I'll have to look through them later if she falls asleep.

"Is everypony ready?"

"Ready!" Spike replied.

"Yes." was my response. I adjusted the news-colt cap on my head to stay away from my ear and vowed to incinerate the entire disguise the second we had safely left the Crystal Empire.

The first obstacle was navigating the castle without alerting the guards. This was fairly simple as any request or question was deflected by Sparkle's Princess pass. A very near run-in with Shining Armor almost caused problems, but his alicorn wife called him into the room he had wandered out of a moment before spotting us. For some reason after that, Twilight and Spike decided to make a game of not being seen by anypony on their way out of the castle from that point on; finding all of the sneaking around to be exciting. I simply followed behind them not wanting to get caught up in their foolishness. They were more likely to hurt themselves just tip-hoofing around and I was busy planning for what I would do when arriving at Ponyville.

I might have enough privacy to modify the null-ring on my horn in the train if Sparkle and Spike both fall asleep. I have no idea how far away this town might be, but if they give me any time then I'll be able to make this device little more than a fashion statement. The only problem with that is my power will be visible to anypony as it grows. Purple strands of dark magic venting from the sides of your eyeballs tend to give off that sort of thing. I may be able to spend some of my focus to hide the effects, but at the point I'm able to overpower Sparkle it won't be needed. Perhaps I could modify the ring to provide an illusion enchantment? Then it would give the thing a purpose and actually be a benefit instead of a hindrance to me. For a different subject, there is no force in Equestria that will keep me from wearing my garments. I've spent a great deal of effort in customizing them and I'll not walk around like the rest of these degenerates with my 'bits' plain for all to see.

My stream of thought was interrupted by a tapping hoof on my forehead. "Sombra?"

Blinking, I looked around and spotted Twilight with a concerned look on her face, lowering her hoof to the ground. "Yes?" I answered.

"We're outside. You zoned out really bad back there. Everything okay?"


She made a face of disappointed annoyance with my short replies. "Alright, we're close to the second part of the plan. Spike has already gone off and is beginning to attract a crowd. This is where we go to the Garden District and loop around. Ready?"

"You've explained the plan barely twenty minutes ago, Sparkle. Lead the way." I pointed an upturned hoof towards the Garden District. I soon followed after her and continued planning; the details of how we actually reached the train station completely uninteresting to me. It was simply a walk through the Empire after all, and I had ruled here longer than anypony.

An unknown obstacle will be the friends of Sparkle. Knowing that they've fought a partially working phylactery version of myself before, they will be distrustful or outright hostile towards me. At least one of them might attack me on sight if I leave the train first and if they are expecting the return of their friend. I will have to remind Sparkle to leave the train first and inform her friends of me before leaving. Yes, my armor would protect me from any harm a hoof might accomplish but I'd rather not be forced to clean myself more than once a day. My grooming schedule may also depend on how dirty the village is. If it's anything like a thousand years ago then I should need several baths a day just to keep disease away from this mortal shell. When my power fully reforms I won't have to worry about it anymore and I can ascend into my shadow form. This does make me wonder how they defeated me in such a state however...

"Sombra!" Twilight hissed while hiding from behind a nearby hay cart. "Get down!"

Too confused to question, I quickly ducked alongside Twilight. "Why are we hiding?" I asked.

"Princess Luna is here!" She replied, peeking from the side of the cart.

Right... Princess Luna hadn't learned of my return yet. I would greatly appreciate not being locked in a fight to the death with the Moon Goddess at the moment. Weakened and hindered as I am.

"Do you know why she is here?"

"Maybe she's looking for me?" Twilight answered uncertainly. "Stay here, I have a plan."

Before I could point out how foolish this was, as simply staying put would have Luna wander off, Twilight got up and stepped around the cart.

"Princess Luna! It's a surprise seeing you here!" She announced herself with exaggerated surprise. She was a very bad liar. I could also use this to my advantage. Ask her any question, and a lie would be bright as the sun to witness.

"Princess Twilight Sparkle, we are pleased to meet you here." Luna greeted her, hoof falls clacking closer against the crystalline street.

"What brings you to the Crystal Empire?" Twilight sweetly inquired.

"We have sensed trouble in these lands, Princess Twilight. Dark powers have returned here, yet they hide from sight." Her tone was serious and annoyed.

Of course I'm not going to show myself! I'm not an idiot, Luna. The last time I did something like that I was obliterated swiftly by you and your sister, if you remember.

"Really? Do you know where they might be coming from?"

"Originally we had seen a vision of a dark cavern of ice near this city. By the time we had awoken for our duties, the darkness had moved towards the center of the city. Now it is on the move again, but it is difficult to precisely locate." I was still hiding behind the cart trying to remain as calm as possible. If she even spotted a hair from my mane I would be done for. I couldn't even run from my spot, as the cart was in the middle of the street and the Lunar Princess had a commanding view of the area. This was also further complicated from my stature as slightly larger than the average pony from so much exposure to dark magic.

"Is there any way I could help?" Twilight offered.

"Nay. This task is one suited for us alone. You are needed by Princess Cadance for her request here, after all. We would not take you from your task."

Well, if her sister is supposed to be the Sun, then it makes sense that Luna is the 'chilly' one. I really don't want to see what her bad side is like. No, rainbows coming from out of nowhere do not count.

"Well... good luck then, Princess Luna!" Twilight wished her happily, and Luna began to move past her without a word and came closer and closer to my cart.

Oh, carve my horn and call me a mud pony! I quickly got to my hooves and sneaked around the side of the hay cart. Attempting to sneak around a crystal street with hooves isn't as easy as Twilight made it look in the castle; my hooves making tiny clacking sounds. I had almost made it half way around the cart before I heard Luna stop.

"Princess Luna?" Twilight asked, "Is something wrong?"

"The shadow... it moves."


I heard Luna turn around swiftly, as if looking directly to my cart. "It moves close by..."

AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!! If she catches me, I'm doomed! Doomed!

It was with after that last thought, that the cart was shoved aside in a spectral purple magic and revealed my cowering figure behind it. My hat was shielding most of my face as I was looking to the ground.

Maybe if I don't move, she'll mistake me as a regular pony?

"A unicorn?" She asked rhetorically. "What is your purpose in the Crystal Empire, subject?"

Hah, I don't even have to act scared! "V-visiting, your highness!" I squeaked, bowing.

To my dismay, I heard a grumble of annoyance from Luna.

"Please, you need neither grovel or fear me."

Shaking in place, I gathered myself up and still stood with my hat between my face and Luna's. "Y-yes, your highness."

"Princess Luna?" Twilight asked.

"Yes, Princess Sparkle?" Luna replied, and I noticed her look away. Maybe if I just inched away slowly while she wasn't looking, then-

"YOU!" She bellowed suddenly, the volume knocking me on my flank and sending my disguise flying off into a nearby bush. I'm doomed.

"Princess Luna, wait!" Twilight exclaimed. I pushed my upper body from the floor, the rest of me prone and on my side. "He's not who you think he is!"

Careful, Sparkle...

Luna's eyes narrowed in heavy suspicion towards me before addressing Twilight. "Explain." She replied sharply.

"This is Play Write! He's a unicorn that was helping Princess Cadance with a play for the Crystal Empire about the defeat of Sombra. Princess Cadance called me here because he got too involved with his role, and tried experimenting with dark magic. That's why he has a null-ring on his horn. I had him show me what he learned, and it caused a vortex of shadow inside of the castle. I was going to take him to Ponyville in order to help him with his control over magic." She hastily explained.

I take it back. She is very good at lying.

"The reason this 'Play Write' appears to be King Sombra is...?" She asked while pointing a hoof accusingly at me.

"A-ah... um!" I helpfully stammered, my pitiful heart still hammering in my chest.

"He's been living 'in character' for almost a month now, so he never takes off his costume."

Luna wasn't convinced. "If he was truly as you say, then he would be wearing Sombra's attire. He is unclothed, Sparkle."

Twilight looked to me with a look of desperation, before remembering the nearby luggage I had been dragging behind me with a strap around my neck. Its contents were still safe but the object itself had been thrown to the ground from Luna's shout earlier. "It's all inside of his travel case!" she explained.

Luna lowered her accusatory hoof to the street, still suspicious. "We will trust you, Sparkle." She then looked to me with a glare that promised swift death. "If this subject gives you any difficulty, you would be wise to inform us."

"Eheh, of course, Princess Luna. It shouldn't be a problem." She nervously blurted.

Luna observed myself and Sparkle for a moment before taking to the sky with a powerful leap and flapping of wings, causing a few crystal ponies that had gathered to witness the spectacle to Ooh or Ahh.

I then promptly fell to the street in relief that all of my organs were still intact.

"Whew!" Twilight exclaimed, wiping sweat from her forehead and plopping down next to me on her flank. "That was way too close."

I simply lay on the street and attempted to regain control of my breathing, a hoof pressed to my chest and my mane getting in my face from being sweaty combined with the stress of everything.

"I think-" I huffed, "We need a new plan."

I swear, if she says anything about a letter i'll-

"I should've sent Princess Luna a letter. Maybe If I sent her one right now then-"

"No, you-" I caught my self before calling her an idiot to her face, "You can't! If you send a letter now then she'll know you were lying to her face!" Not to mention the fact that an angry Luna would care even less about my 'reformation process and change of heart'. I would like the chance to make at least ten more phylacteries before being obliterated again, thanks.

Her stature shrank a bit in sadness. "I didn't mean to lie to her, but I didn't want you to get caught either."

I know in this kind of situation that you are supposed to place a comforting hoof on the other pony's shoulder, but coming from me I would think it not very effective. Instead, I opted to right myself and offer a hoof so she could stand easier. It was a small gesture, but the lightening of her mood seemed to help her trust me more. I have to play along until my power fully forms, after all. If she trusts my judgement and council more than Luna's, then I might buy myself some time before her ingrained loyalties to the Princesses kick in. Well, if she had loyalties. Had Sparkle always been a princess?

"Thanks..." Twilight said while accepting my hoof and standing. "Well, we still have a train to catch." she looked to a device on her hoof before exclaiming, "Oh no! We're going to be late now!"

Don't tell me-

"We're gonna have to teleport! Brace yourself!" She charged her horn over my immediate protest, and the only thing I could do was grab a hold of my travel case before the sensation of being squeezed through a pinhole and erupting from the other side made me want to vomit.


We exited the teleport onto the train station platform, my luggage underneath me as I landed atop of it and heaved. "Aaaaauuugh!"

"Sorry!" She worriedly exclaimed while checking on me. "It wasn't too bad, was it?"

"Nev-" I held a hoof to my mouth, a bit of vomit nearly escaping and forcing me to swallow it. "Never again!" I gasped.

A few ponies and a guard had moved to investigate the commotion and spectacle of a Princess and vaguely familiar pony teleporting nearby.

"Is that...?"

"Princess Twilight Sparkle?"

"Who's her friend?"

"Hey... He looks kinda familiar!"

"Yeah! Kinda like..."

"No... It can't be!"

"Everypony calm down!" Twilight yelled over the growing panic. "Everything is under control; nothing to see here!"

I heard the sound of magical buildup in her horn again. "Noooo!"


"-oooooouuuuuuhhh!" I wailed in complaint, holding my stomach and rolling on the floor. "I just said-"

"I know, I know! I'm sorry but it was getting out of control!" She swiftly interrupted, digging through a white box with a red addition sign on it in the cabin we had been teleported into. There were two benches and a window facing away from the station platform in addition to a small closet next to the benches and adjacent to the door leading into the room.

"Here!" She said hurriedly, "I still have to run and catch Spike before the train leaves. Good luck!"



"Cocoa..." I complained meekly. I had been promised coca if there was teleporting, and by the Crystal Heart was I going to get some cocoa!

I tried to move, and my stomach reminded me of its immense confusion with the situation by nearly making me vomit again. I then flopped back down onto the carpeted floor.

After I recover then... wait, why is my head cold? I moved my head around and some kind of frigid material fell in front of my muzzle and flopped over onto the floor. Now my head wasn't cold. Want kind of... Enchantment? I poked it experimentally. Why would anypony enchant something to be cold? Now my attention was fully focused on pondering the existence of randomly enchanted items that could be found in the most mundane of places. Perhaps there was a 'cocoa heating' enchantment I could learn? Or better yet, a candy vine spell! Turn actual plant vines into red vines! Delicious. Then I grew cautious. What if they don't even remember how to make candy vines? That would be a tragedy! I'd have to control a baker simply to make some for myself at that point! Well, I was going to do that anyway. I mean mind controlling a baker specifically for that purpose ahead of my eventual conquest of everything... minus Teleportation. Sparkle can have that spell all to herself if she wants.


"Aaah!" I yelped in surprise. I'm not even going to lie and say it was a menacing growl. That was a complete, unedited colt-like yelp of unexpected. Twilight and Spike had re-appeared suddenly and much faster than I had anticipated, thus I was fully unprepared for their return.

"Everypony here?" Twilight asked, before looking down and spotting me curled up in shock. "Sorry!" she sheepishly smiled in apology.

Then the dragon spotted me as well, and snickered. Just you wait until you're older, Dragon. I'll find a way to control you too. I grumbled internally.

"Are you alright, King Sombra?" She continued.

I've just gone through a near death encounter with a goddess, sneaked around an Empire, teleported against my will twice in the span of a few seconds and my body had decided it didn't feel like eating today afterwards as well.

"Never... better!" I grimaced, holding my aching stomach from all the dry heaving it had been doing since teleporting.

"I hope nopony comes inside the cabin to look for tickets. They'd spot Sombra right away." Spike reminded everypony.

"Oh! I actually thought about that." Twilight chirped happily, pulling a large blanket from the closet in the cabin. "Have this!" she exclaimed while draping the soft fabric over me like a tarp. Now everything was fuzzy and a shade of light blue and white from the blanket covering my body and face.

"Splendid. Now I can vomit in peace." I replied tiredly. It was about as close to a 'thank you' that Sparkle was going to get from me at the moment.

"All aboard for Ponyville!" I heard a distant voice call out from the platform. "Last call for boarding!"

Sounds of hoof-steps coming down the hall set everypony on edge.

"Is that one of the conductors?" Spike asked.

"No, they're probably just one of the ponies that collects tickets." Twilight replied, levitating three tickets and opening the door slightly, poking her head through the opening.

Their conversation was overpowered by the sound of the train starting. A loud whistle added to my discomfort by nearly giving me a headache.

From now on, I am never going to be without my garments. This is plain ludicrous. The crown itself is enchanted to deal with minor annoyances like headaches and loud noises. I didn't even get cocoa as promised for the teleportation! Sparkle will rue the day that-

"Hey, grumpy." Spike non-nonchalantly said, "Here's your cocoa. Twilight made some while you were laying down."

That quickly? It must be a spell of some kind then! I lifted the blanket enough to take the beverage from Spike before draping the blanket over myself once more to shield me from their gaze. If they want to watch me enjoy cocoa, they will have to wait until I have enslaved them. Then they can watch me drink all of the cocoa in Equestria!

"Yep, he's in his happy place." I vaguely recall Spike saying. I had noticed that halfway through my cup that my eyelids were beginning to grow very heavy.

"You... spell." I incoherently grumbled.


"Spell on... cocoa. Can't..." I tried to explain before my head nearly drooped my muzzle into the cocoa. I overcompensated for this and whipped back enough that the blanket flew from my head and onto my back. "Why..." I lazily grumbled at Twilight.

"Sombra... I think you're tired already." She replied, lightly poking the side of my face with her hoof. I made a half-hearted attempt at a growl in response.


She smiled at this. "Get some sleep, King Sombra. You've got a big day tomorrow!"

She's... I'm not a foal! I'm... perfectly stallion. I am in control of my body! I... I um... "Eeh!" I blurted, pointing a hoof in her vague direction.

Eyes so heavy... must... stay awake...

"I think he's finally passing out, Twilight."

"That took a really long time to work..."

"It should've worked faster!"

"Oh well, I'm sure there's an explanation for it. Let me just see if his Null-ring is still... No..."

"What's wrong?"

I was far too exhausted to remember the rest of what had happened, as I had passed out at that point.

Headaches and Exposition

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"Guh..." I mumbled from my spot on the train's couch. Augh, my head hurts!

"Twilight, Sombra's already awake!" I heard Spike whisper quickly.

Argh, please be quiet Spike. I feel like somepony took a mallet to my horn...

"Are you sure the new Null-ring is on?" Twilight whispered.

I opened a single eye a sliver and saw Spike set a mallet down. You're kidding.

"Definitely made sure! He won't be tampering with the new one any time soon." The soon to be pile of ash grinned.

I tried to cast any sort of spell, but the feedback from the Null-ring nearly made me fall unconscious from overload. It wasn't painful, so much as overwhelming to the point that my brain decided it would rather not be awake at the moment than deal with whatever was going on.

"Sparkle..." I grumbled, moving a hoof to hold my head upright. Not only did I have a headache, but I had an everything-ache. It felt like my body had gone through a gladiatorial arena as some kind of mascot for punching bags. "Wuh..." Was all I could blurt out before my limb gave out on me and sent my head flopping onto the cushion. I instead resigned myself to lazily blinking and looking around.

"King Sombra?" Twilight replied in a nervous and 'too innocent' tone. "Are you alright? You fell asleep as soon as you drank that cocoa!"

"You had us worried there, buddy." Spike added, the both of them insulting my intelligence by thinking that they had fooled me. I don't particularly care anyway at the moment. I knew my trick with the Null Ring wasn't going to last under inspection. It seems I hadn't given Sparkle and the dragon the credit they were due. Possibly one of those lists she had been looking at was to make certain I wasn't doing anything to the Null-ring.

"Whatever." I voiced with the effort similar to a disinterested adolescent. "Cocoa?" I had been promised all the cocoa I wanted, since I had been teleported twice against my will. If I couldn't yet make her my slave, then I would make her my cocoa maid. That will teach her to mess with me.

"Sure! I'll be right back." Spike dutifully replied, sliding the room's door open and shutting it behind him in pursuit of cocoa. Twilight sat across from me on the other couch in the train's private room that we occupied.

"So... how are you feeling?" Twilight asked a bit awkwardly.

"If you take my ring off, I can show you." I half heartedly threatened. It came off as more of a monotone ramble than a menacing retort, but everything in my body was distracting me with pain from the Null Ring being in full force and containing what power had seeped into me in the time the last one had been compromised.

"I'd like to, believe me. It's just..."

"You do not trust me."

"I'd like to, though!" She quickly added, a hoof raised as if it would help add to her sincerity.

"Sparkle, I would like to ask you something." I properly stated; instead of asking somepony If I was allowed to ask them something.

This change in conversation seemed to take the Princess off guard for a moment. "Uh, sure! What do you want to know?"

Now was my opportunity to get updated on 'recent' events. I had been functionally gone for a thousand years since Celestia and Luna had obliterated me with their rainbows, so I was supremely lacking information that anypony in this age would find commonplace. "What has happened in the last thousand years? Significant events; not every day tedium." I clarified.

She thought for a moment. "You mean, since you've been gone? Weren't you back in Equestria only a couple of years ago?"

Use your brain, Sparkle. "I was not fully conscious and had little time to do research, I assume."

"Oh, right. Giant smoke monster." she remembered. "Well, when were you conscious last?"

"Before Princesses Celestia and Luna shot a rainbow into my body and obliterated me." I snarked. I shifted into a more comfortable position with my back pressed against the wall's cushion and faced towards Twilight. Yes, I didn't have any of my clothing on at the moment but she didn't seem to notice or care. Things like nudity must be far more common place now. I'm even more worried about if taking a bath is a regular occurrence. I wouldn't want to sit somewhere in a public place (banish the thought) and have some other pony's nastiness left behind on the seat.

"That would be... a couple years before the banishment of Nightmare Moon then." Twilight quickly replied after thinking for a moment.

"Nightmare Moon?" It sounded like some cheap opera villain.

"Princess Luna had become corrupted by dark magics and negative emotions, and attempted to overthrow Princess Celestia and leave all of Equestria in eternal night." she explained.

Hah, serves her right for overthrowing me. It must've given Luna ideas! Actually, wait a moment. I had just run into Luna the other day. "So I am to understand that she is freed from her banishment now?"

"Thanks to the Elements of Harmony, my friends and I were able to cleanse the corruption from Princess Luna about six years ago. It's also how we became friends! I mean, my friends in Ponyville and I, not Princess Luna. We are friends! Luna and I, I mean." She rambled a tad.

How wonderful for you, Twilight. You made some friends and released the mare that nearly killed me again yesterday. Bravo. "Very well. What else has happened?"

"Well, Discord came back about a year after that."

Discord? Really? Where are these ponies getting their names, a black hat? "Discord?" I asked.

"The God of Chaos and a Draconiquis, ruled for about a thousand years before Princess Celestia and Princess Luna? How have you not heard of him?"

I blinked. "Crystal Empire; secluded and far away place behind mountains locked in snowfall for most of the year... and busy enslaving peasants?"

She didn't seem impressed. In fact, she seemed annoyed by my response and complete lack of concern for those I had enslaved. "Right." she sighed. "Well, he was released from his imprisonment in stone twice, and we befriended him on the second escape."

I can not imagine what their prisons must look like now. 'Oh, hello murderer pony. Would you like to be friends? You could leave prison sooner if you do!' A complete mockery of any form of punishment system. Not that I was complaining; I was on board with this entire 'make friends' system of rehabilitation, even if it was a complete waste of effort on their part. I mulled around the idea of speaking with Discord, but something tells me that he is not the 'enslaving' type. Besides, there is only room for one king in the first place. I do not need anypony in a position to overthrow me at a moment's notice either. Let him rot with his friends.

"Anything else?"

"A swarm of Changelings tried to take over Canterlot. Their queen impersonated Princess Cadance, mind controlled Shining Armor and fooled pretty much everypony. Except for me, of course." She smiled proudly.

A Queen, not a Princess? Changelings? Mind control? Also, a swarm would mean... "What are changelings; some kind of insect?"

"As far as we know, they're shape-shifting insectoid parasites that feed off of love. They transform into somepony that you love in order to feed off of your love for them, and they leave you drained in the process. We don't know a lot more than that, because we've only encountered them them once." she explained.

Interesting. I can not see them being much of a threat for me personally, but the idea is novel enough. I wonder if they make good workers?

"After that?" I asked.

"Well, you came back as a giant smoke monster and tried to take over the Crystal Empire again."

Oh. "How did you defeat me?"

Twilight was about to answer, but something must have caught her tongue. "Eh... It isn't important. What matters is that you're back, and on the road to learning all about friendship!"

My eyes narrowed at her avoidance of my question, but I decided to drop the subject for now. A knocking at the door announced the return of Spike... and my hot cocoa! I attempted to take it in my magic on reflex, and subsequently almost passed out with my head mushing into the cushion beneath me.

"Uhg. This ring is going to be the death of me." I complained.

"What, you mean again?" Spike snarked, setting my cup down on a secure table with a holder to avoid any spillage from the train's travel.

One day, dragon. One day and you will be my slave too. Just you wait, with your comebacks and your drugged cocoa. I glowered at him, waiting for my body to recover enough to reach for the cocoa with my hooves.

"What've you two been talking about?" Spike wondered, sipping his own cocoa after handing a cup to Twilight. I idly wondered how his stubby claws managed to carry three cups and a plate of sandwiches, but then immediately decided I didn't care. I was hungry.

"I've just been updating King Sombra on what's been going on in the last thousand years or so since he's been gone." Twilight explained, sipping her cocoa.

"Wait, you didn't tell him about... you know?" He spoke through the corner of his mouth while looking at me with a false friendly smile.

"Narrowly avoided it." Twilight returned through her own mouth corner. They were both speaking quietly but I was still able to hear them because...

"I am right here, you know." I grumbled, lazily swiping at my cocoa. I didn't even care if it was drugged again at this point, It was still delicious.

"Right! Where were we?" She widely smiled, attempting to change course in conversation away from any further awkwardness.

"How you defeated me?" I attempted again.

"Oh! I became an Alicorn after I cast a spell from Starswirl the Bearded." She dodged again, but at least it perked my interest.

"That fool? I'm surprised it did not explode in your face. I would not trust a single thing that wizard ever put on a scroll."

"Well, technically..." Spike began, before getting cut off by Twilight.

"Everything worked out fine in the end!" She insisted.

"Certainly for you, it did." I nodded to her wings, which she unfurled and took a look at before folding them again. "What happened after that?"

"Well, I... um..." She stopped herself again, after Spike had given her some kind of neck slicing gesture with nervous expression and shaking his head in the negative.

"I got a castle!" She declared.

I sighed in both annoyance and boredom. "Of course you did." I'll learn all your secrets eventually, Sparkle. Even if I have to mind control you to do it.


"Well, my castle came with this big map for all of Equestria and-"

"Recent events, Sparkle. I don't care about a map."

"Oh.. right." She said with slight deflation of her excitement. "Well, we were called by the Cutie Map to a remote part of Equestria where there was a really big friendship problem happening and-"

"Sparkle." I cut her off again. "Recent, important, events." I do not care about your map, or your 'friendship problems'.

Twilight thought again for a moment, looking to Spike a few times to whisper something much quieter in his ears for his approval. Apparently she wasn't the brightest when it came to information management.

"That's about it." She finally decided. "Your return is the most recent historical event to happen for Equestria." She smiled. Nopony smiles that much. It must be an act.

"Wonderful. Can I wear my garments yet?" I asked while looking out of the train window, seeing nothing but green fields and countryside mixed with a thick treeline and blue skies all around.

"I don't see why not. Are you able to walk again?" She asked.

I stretched a limb experimentally, and it ached sorely in response. "Not with this ring on me." I looked to Sparkle and attempted to manipulate her with a pouting face. "Would you reconsider removing it? I would be most grateful!"

She deadpanned at me. "Not right now."

I dropped the false expression. Drat. It was worth the effort, I suppose. "How long until we reach the village with your castle?" It probably wasn't even a proper castle. Hmmph.

She looked out the window along with Spike. "I think we just passed the Whitetail Woods, so it shouldn't be very long. Maybe thirty minutes?"

"Well, I'm going to attempt to dress myself. You're perfectly free to go elsewhere in the meantime." Maybe if I could get them to leave me alone, I could figure out how to release myself from this blasted ring on my horn.

"I'm pretty sure we got everything covered. Besides, why would you be embarrassed about getting dressed in front of other ponies?" Spike asked with genuine curiosity instead of teasing. You are a baby dragon, so I will forgive that faux pas.

"It simply is not an activity you perform in view of others." I stated simply, slightly annoyed that it was a question that needed answering in the first place."

"But Twilight and her friends do it all the time together." Spike pointed out.

"That is because although Sparkle may have wings, she is still a peasant at heart. You should conduct yourself with more dignity, being an alicorn." It's like she doesn't see herself as inherently superior to the feather-brains and mud ponies. I hope she isn't... friends with any. Yuck. Does she even know what those feather-dusters do in the clouds all day? Nap! They do absolutely nothing productive, and take all the food they can get their cloud covered hooves on from the Muddies below! If it weren't for us unicorns lording over everypony, it would be absolute chaos.

"I'm happy with who I am." She curtly replied, somehow offended.

"Obviously. You are an alicorn after all."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Spike asked.

I rolled my eyes. "What has happened to the state of Equestria in my absence? Are alicorns supposed to be the peasants now? Did the pillow-ponies finally do something productive and invade? It would take a miracle for them to accomplish that, actually." I amended after a moment's thought.

"King Sombra... were the pony tribes united when you were alive last?" Twilight asked me suddenly, a scroll and quill levitated nearby. I regarded the writing implements a moment and decided I didn't mind being recorded. I was probably living history to her, and If my opinion on something gained me favor with her then I would exploit that possibility by all means available. It doesn't hurt that I didn't have to lie, either.

"Tribes? Please, If you could count whatever the Earth Ponies and the Pegasus did as a coordinated effort to the level of a tribe, the unicorns wouldn't have had to lord over either of them." I then took this opportunity to take a bite of the sandwich that had been set next to my cocoa.

"Wait... Sparkle, what is this?" I asked while absently chewing.

"Egg salad." Spike replied.

I took a moment to swallow, before nodding in appreciation. "You continue to surprise me with your culinary delights, Spike." Now I have two favorite foods. Cocoa and egg salad!

"Would you mind talking more about the way things worked in your time?" Twilight asked, having finished her frantic recording.

I looked out the window. "How much longer until the village?"

"About twenty minutes."

Ugh. This train is taking forever. "Alright. If only to pass the time, then."


"Aaah!" I yelped, nearly dropping my cocoa. "What was that?!"

Twilight was looking towards the roof of the train car. "It sounded like something landed on the train!"

"Should we tell somepony?" Spike asked, nervous.

*Clack, clack, clack*

"It's moving away?" Twilight wondered.

"Good! I nearly spilled my cocoa!"

"Sombra, this might be serious!"

"Very serious! Do you know how difficult it is to drink cocoa from the carpet!?"

"Ugh! I'll go take a look and see what it is." Twilight grumbled, peeking from our room before leaving Spike alone with me.

"Do you know what it could be?" Spike asked, still nervous and seemingly anxious.

"Death?" was my helpful reply.

*Tink tink* went the glass window next to me.

"Aah!" I squeaked, hiding underneath my blanket from Princess Luna hanging upside down and pointing towards the window's locking mechanism. "Nopony is here, return at a later time!" I mewled from under the covers. She must know that Twilight was lying! Why else would she be here? I'm not even sure if I have any surviving phylacteries, so this could very well be my last death!

"Spike, open the window for us." Luna calmly asked, jarring Spike from his shocked trance.

"Of course!" He finally agreed, running for the window.

I tripped him. I then made as hasty a retreat I could muster with my impaired form out of the room.

"Sombra, wait! Come back!" I heard Spike call after me. If Luna didn't know that I was Sombra, she certainly did now. Thank you, Spike. Idiot.

I ducked through the halls, still without my enchanted protective apparel, weaving through serving ponies and overturning a serving tray. I made my way through several high class unicorn types to the door joining this train car to the next. I then opened the door to come face to face with Luna herself.

"Eep!" I squeaked, backpedaling into the wall behind me before attempting to run around it. Alas, I was held in the air by her magical grip. "Drat."

"King Sombra." Luna mused, floating me towards her at eye level. She was almost equal height to me, if a tad bit taller. Still, it was either for intimidation purposes or for us to see another as equals. Given that she could annihilate me, I leaned towards her using it for intimidation purposes. "You have returned once more."

No, really? I nodded, my mouth deciding it wanted to have a vacation for a few minutes at least.

"Why?" was her question, accompanied by suspicious eyes and a slight frown.

Being dead is very counter productive to my plans of enslaving worthless ponies to do my bidding? I held out both of my fore-hooves and attempted my best shrug.

"Very well. If you wish to remain silent, then we will learn of your plans eventually. By force, if need be." She threatened.

"Princess Luna!" I heard Twilight call. Thank magic. She'll either turn me in to Luna, or save me. Given that I'm technically a pet project of hers now, I lean towards the saving bit. "Wait!"

"Princess Twilight? We thought you were performing a task for Princess Cadance. Have you completed it already?" Luna asked, still keeping me floating nearby with her magic. Being helpless is getting old, fast.

"Aaabout that... heh..." She chuckled nervously, holding a single hoof upwards as if to ask for a moment of time to think. She then pointed towards me. "King Sombra was the 'task' that Princess Cadance asked for my help with." She now nervously smiled, slightly flinching away.

"You knew this pony was King Sombra all along?" Luna asked in partial surprise and now suspicion. "Why did you not inform us of this?"

"Princess Cadance wanted to keep it a secret, so there wouldn't be a panic in the Crystal Empire." Twilight explained. "We were in the middle of getting Sombra away from the Empire before we ran into you, and I had to lie to you to keep our cover." she continued, apologetically.

Luna regarded Sparkle for a moment, before looking to me again in suspicion and distrust. "You vouch for this... pony?" She asked hesitantly.

I may enslave ponies by the Empire and hold no regard for disgusting peasants, but I am still a pony! That is most uncalled for, Luna.

It was Twilight's turn to look at me in thought. "He might not be the most... friendly of ponies, but he's working on it. I can already see him being more thoughtful about ponies other than himself. I think we're making good progress in rehabilitating him!" She decided proudly.

Sure, rehabilitation. Like I am going to start going on picnics with-- wait; I am not tempting fate with that one. Disregard that!

Luna stared at me for some time in thought, causing Twilight and Spike to share nervous glances as Luna mulled over my fate. Finally after what seemed like ages, she gently placed me on the train car floor. "Very well, Princess Twilight. Friendship is your domain, and we will defer to your judgement in this regard. Were you attempting to overrule us on the subject of the Moon, we would be most upset. With this in mind, we will not trample over your duties. We wish you luck, Princess Twilight Sparkle." She nodded royally.

Yes! Thank you! Finally somepony understands position and chain of command! I rejoiced in my head. I tried to keep my expression as neutral as possible, but I must have cracked a small smile at the least if Spike's look on his face was any indication.

"Until next our paths cross, Princess Twilight." Luna bade farewell, opening the train door and taking off again to go wherever it is that Moon Goddesses go in their spare time.

"We really have to stop running into her like this." Spike groaned." This is what, the second time? I can't believe she didn't spot Sombra the first time you told me you ran into her!"

"Something tells me that she already knew, but didn't say anything." Twilight replied.

"Why would she do something like that?" Spike wondered.

"Collateral damage?" I suggested, drawing their attention. "Perhaps she did not want to risk obliterating me where others might be harmed in the imagined duel. I am uncertain if she has noticed this null-ring." I pointed to it for emphasis. "If she truly has been banished nearly as long as I have, then she would not have encountered many. They were excessively rare in my time." Pfft. 'My time'. Now I feel old.

Spike snickered.

"Silence, Spike." I snapped, and he thankfully complied.

"Grampa Sombra." He teased.


"Grumpy Grampa." He said more quietly.

I decided this childish game was nowhere near my list of priorities and moved aggressively past him, knocking him over in the process. I still had not had a chance to fully enjoy my sandwich, and I was not going to confront an entire town of Sparkle's friends while malnourished.

I navigated my way back through the car, filled with ponies that were giving me nervous looks. The train had left the Crystal Empire, and thus it was filled with adventurous Crystal Ponies. They of course knew what I looked like, and had overheard our conversation in the hallway. Thankfully none of them got it in their heads to attack me with pitchforks or torches and I safely returned to our train cart.

"Hey, who are you?"

Never mind, wrong cart. I will find it eventually.

Tree Houses and Sanguine Mares

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Perhaps this door? I asked myself to distract from the tedium of searching the entire train for our room. Twilight and Spike were following behind me and conversating about what all of us would do as soon as we eventually arrived in Ponyville, several concerns about different ponies being brought up. I didn't know the names of any of Sparkle's friends and with them being peasants in the first place, I didn't care to learn them.

The next door slid open on some kind of rail contraption with a small metal wheel and revealed yet another occupied room with oblivious ponies staring out of the window and gawking at the scenery zipping past. Before they could notice my entrance, I closed the door and moved onto the next room.

"Do you think that having Sombra walking around in Ponyville is really a good idea?" Spike asked Twilight. The two were whispering, but they always talked loud enough that it was simple to hear them. I don't honestly know why they even bothered to whisper in the first place.

"I'm sure it will be fine once I explain everything." Twilight replied full of confidence. "We befriended Discord after all, so why not Sombra?"

There's that name again. Discord. I might encounter him during my stay in Ponyville, now that I think about it. If he is a friend to these Ponyville surfs, perhaps there is something I have yet to see.

"Yeah, but... I mean it's Sombra. The last time any of us saw him, he was trying to take over all of the Crystal Empire and enslave everypony. All Discord ever did was annoy everypony without making any sense." Spike reasoned.

I arrived at another door and offered a silent prayer to whatever force of chance that governed the universe that this would be the door to lead me to my salvation from nudity and uncomfortable company. I slid the door open, and...


A unicorn mare, snow white in coat and with hair a crimson coloration with copper bangs was happily staring out of the window. She was wearing a black aviation jacket that I sincerely hoped was not made from actual leather and copper wire-frame rectangle glasses. She noticed that I was staring at her while standing in the doorway and looked directly at me. For some reason, I wasn't able to move myself away. Her eyes were copper and a fiery orange in coloration and she was also wearing black eye-shadow. My eyes drifted to her cutie-mark at a most inopportune time to witness a smiling copper opera mask on her flank.

"Hallo!" She happy cheered. Her accent was strange, but her demeanor was extremely welcoming. "Who ah you?" She asked.

I should have just shut the door to continue on my quest to find my clothing, but she was a unicorn and it would be extremely rude of me to rebuff her. She had no idea whom I was and I could easily just make up another persona to interact with her, but there was no harm in being honest for this moment. "I am King Sombra." I introduced myself with a polite bow. "Whom would you be?"

She took a moment to hop off of the train car and I noticed a few more details about her appearance. Her mane and tail were plainly styled, just a simple brushing to straighten them out. Her mane came just to neck length and covered her left eye. The mane and tail were also slightly messy in appearance despite the effort to control them. Her face was more angular than round, which lead me to believe her to be of a higher family than the soft and round-faced peasants I had been dealing with. She was average in height so that ruled out the possibility of being true nobility and she carried herself in a relaxed yet purposeful manner. "My name is Sanguine!" She smiled pleasantly, offering a hoof.

I debated kissing the hoof, but decided that would be going too far and went for a simple shake. "A pleasure to meet you."

At this moment, Twilight and Spike had noticed that I was not in the same hallway as them and came back in a hurry down the hallway to find me. We had just finished our introductions when they arrived.

"There you are!" Twilight announced worriedly. She then looked past me to see the pony whom I had just met. "Oh, we're sorry to interrupt your travels, Miss...?"

"No worries, Princess Twilight." Sanguine offered warmly. "I am Sanguine." She bowed.

"Oh, you don't have to bow!" Sparkle quickly interrupted. "Really, I only recently became a princess and it feels really strange for ponies to do that." She nervously added.

"Is that real leather?" Spike asked in slight alarm.

Sanguine then looked to her coat in surprise for a moment as if she had just realized what she was wearing. "Oh no," She exclaimed, "I just decided to take my last lover out for a night on ze town!" She smiled, making Twilight and Spike very alarmed and nervous.

I however, found this hilarious. "Pfft, hahaha!"

Now Twilight and Spike were even more disturbed as Sanguine joined in my laughter.

"Uh... eheh?" Twilight nervously chuckled, looking sideways at Spike and nudging him to join in. He also forced a laugh of politeness.

After Sanguine and I had recovered, she spoke before I could. "King Sombra, you interest me!"

"Oh?" I asked with genuine surprise. "How is that?"

"Very few ponies would understand my humor in Equestria. Are you from zis country?" She asked with interest, flipping her mane out of her eyes.

"I am from the Crystal Empire, actually."

"Ah!" She cooed excitedly, "I haff yet to visit that place. Perhaps you could show me around?" She purred with wiggling eyebrows.

Sure, I'll show you my Crystal Castle-- wait. What am I doing? I shook my head to clear my train of thought. "Perhaps another time. I am currently traveling with Princess Twilight and her servant to Ponyville." I politely explained.

"Oh? Well, it so happens that I too am on my way to Ponyville to tour the new castle there!" She smiled, looking to Twilight. "Would you mind a tour to show the both of us around?" Sanguine then looked to me, quickly raising a single eyebrow to signal the need for a group effort. She then put on her best pouting face and I joined quickly after while looking at Twilight.

Being put on the spot so suddenly, Twilight stammered. "I--Ah... Sure!" she buckled quickly. "We just have to find our room again to get King Sombra's clothing and wait until the train stops."

"Oh?" Sanguine purred. "The great King Sombra graces us with his unclothed visage, does he?" she placed a hoof on my shoulder.

This mare is going to be the death of me. Not a bad death, but still.

Twilight and Spike snickered at my blushing discomfort with the situation. "Yes--well, You understand how trains can be." I hastily made an excuse.

"Close, noisy, hot and..." She leaned in close to whisper into my ear, "Sweaty?"

Oh mercy! My knees nearly buckled at that, So I did my best to slide away from her clutches towards the hallway. "Yes! Well, we really should be going. Busy day!"

Sanguine was laughing politely to herself, covering her mouth with a hoof. Oh! She wasn't serious. Whew. Or... was she? I shook my head again and walked down the hallway with haste.

"I will see you around, Ja?" She called down the hallway.

"Most certainly!" I replied, quickly looking away and desperately redoubling my search for the room.

"Snrk." Came from Spike. I turned to look at the both of them, and saw them snickering.

"What is it?" I asked grumpily.

"Grampa Sombra has a crush!" Spike giggled.

"Grr, I am not your grandfather, nor do I have a crush!" I growled, looking away to find our room.

"Do you think we should tell him?" Twilight whispered.

"Nah, I'm sure he'll figure it out eventually." Spike whispered back.

I stopped, and whipped around. "Figure out what?" I clipped with annoyance.

"You heard that?" Twilight asked with surprise.

"Yes. I've heard every word you've whispered this entire time."

Both Sparkle and Spike frowned for a brief moment in surprise. "Yikes, I thought we were being quiet..." Spike mumbled.

"You were. My hearing is exceptional." I explained.

"Think he's part Bat Pony?" Spike whispered extra quietly to Sparkle with a claw cupped over her ear.

"You know, whispering doesn't work if I am standing directly in front of you and can see you whispering." Idiot.

"Well, I figured you should know that we passed our room about five minutes ago." Spike said with a straight face, before quickly losing his composure and laughing at my dumbfound expression.


"You really didn't notice?" Twilight asked, also giggling.


"Hey Twilight, I think we broke Sombra." Spike laughed, waving a claw across my field of vision.

"But... I was so certain..."

Twilight then spoke up. "Do you remember the spells you cast in the Crystal Castle for doors?"


"I placed one on our door so nopony would see it and ask for room service, and then find you there."


"I modified it a little bit, and it turns out it worked perfectly!"

"But I made those..." I said sadly, placing a hoof on my chest and staring off into space to contemplate life.

"Don't feel bad, Grampa. We'll give you cocoa when we get to the castle!" Spike said cheerfully, nudging me with his stubby shoulder.

"My doors..." I looked up quickly, slightly startling them. "You didn't touch my stairs, did you?" I asked with serious tone.

Spike and Twilight both groaned in annoyance. "Oohh, Don't even get me started on your stairs." They said in unison before looking at another and smiling before looking to me.

"You didn't harm them, did you? Any tinkering?" I asked suspiciously.

"I thought the reverse gravity spell was a nice touch, but otherwise I didn't do anything." She raised a hoof, "I swear on my honor as a Princess."

"And I don't want to see another staircase ever again in my life!" Spike added with conviction.

"You still mucked with my doors..." I pouted. I had worked extremely hard to contrive a spell matrix for those doors. To see that same spell being used so nonchalantly just... irked me to the very core. Do you realize how difficult it actually is to use mind altering magic, and then enchant a gemstone to automatically cast that spell without fail and never degrade? I doubt it, very cynical voice in my head. Yes I can speak to you if I want!

"NEXT STOP, PONYVILLE!" I voice called out through the train car. "PONYVILLE IN FIVE MINUTES!"

I looked past the two, spotting a uniformed earth pony walking down the carpetted hallways and checking rooms for sleeping passengers to wake up. I didn't spot anything out of the ordinary down the hallway itself, though he did skip a certain spot without a door... All the other doors were uniform in placement, so why was this one empty?

Aha! That must be the room!

I grinned widely, knowing where to finally go to enter our room. I moved past Twilight and Spike, ignoring their complaints as I too quickly shoved past them in my eagerness. A few other ponies were already disembarking and leaving their rooms to wait by the exit doors, but I weaved myself through them as well. I eventually came to our room, the door standing plainly as ever now that I had spotted it and never let it leave my sight.

"Finally, I can put on my clothes!" I cheered quietly to myself, my voice drowned out by the hubbub of moving ponies and luggage being adjusted. I slid the door to the room closed and locked it, annoying Twilight whom now had to wait outside. I then quickly opened the closet that contained my luggage, and hauled it out into the center of the cramped space.

"Now, let's see if everything is where I left it..."

I opened the latches with two metallic clicks and lifted the lid to view my glorious set of armor and my wonderful cape of snuggles. Eh, I mean... You know what? This is my mind, I don't have to justify my thoughts to anypony, especially myself. It is my snuggle cape and it makes me feel safe. There, I thought it. Now I don't have to be parted from it, and I have the added benefit of my armor to go along with it. I reached into the case, taking each bit of armoring out carefully and laying it on the carpet in a neat order. I would fiddle around with the chestpiece first, as that would be the simplest to put on. All I have to do is bend my neck, walk forward and-- there we are!

I adjusted the straps to hold the armor tightly to my chest and then set about donning the hoof armoring. Hind legs first, so that I could better manipulate them into place with my forehooves as I lacked my magic currently. The entire procedure was going along fairly well considering my crippled, magicless state.

"Hey Sombra, the train is gonna leave soon! Let us in!" Spike hollered through the door.

I dropped an armored hoof shoe to the floor and stood up. I was missing my forehoof armor but it would be simple enough to put it on later. I opened the door to find Twilight and Spike looking very impatient.

"You get everything?" Spike asked.

"Just need the forehoof armoring." I replied, pointing to devices.

"Alright, that should be good enough." Twilight stated, lifting both myself and the rest of my equipment into the air with her magic.

"Not this again!" I complained.

"Come on, we have to get off the train before it leaves!" She impatiently explained, using her magic to adjust the straps on my armoring and secure the last parts as well while making our way through the train to the exit door.

"Ah, ze king returns!" I heard Sanguine announce with an amused tone. "Normally, I would expect a chauffeur, but I suppose being mare-handled by a Princess is regal enough." She was following directly behind me as the group left the train and stepped off onto the platform.

"Sanguine?" I asked. I had expected her to be the first pony off of the train, what with her minimal attire and absence of luggage.

"I told you I would be seeing you again, Ja? Though, this must be much sooner than you had imagined." She smiled while tilting her head to the right, making her mane fall away to fully reveal her look of amusement.

"Sombra's got a crush~" Spike teased in a whisper.

I tried to maneuver in Twilight's grasp, but only succeeded in causing myself to list to the left and spin around lazily.

"So, Princess Twilight," Sanguine began, walking alongside me and placing a hoof onto my side to stop my spin. "How does a Princess of Friendship come across the company of a King?" she smirked sideways at me and then overtook my position to walk alongside Twilight. Spike was walking alongside my right.

"I'm starting a reformation program!" She happily explained. "I accept anypony or creature otherwise and help teach lessons in friendship to better Equestria." She was very proud about her role, apparently.

"Well, King Sombra seems to be very polite and friendly to me." She winked at me. "Why would he need your help?"

Oof, that choice of wording. That was probably going to upset Twilight.

"I'm glad you asked!" Twilight replied without missing a beat. "We all know that not everypony is given the same kind of upbringing or opportunity to make friends, and I wanted to give King Sombra the opportunity to have that and offer a better alternative to what he did before."

Uh oh. If she says anything about enslaving ponies, then I doubt that Sanguine is going to approve of it.

"What did he do before coming to Ponyville?" Sanguine innocently asked. "I mean he was obviously a King, but why the need for 'friendship', as you put it?"

"Well..." Twilight replied awkwardly. "Let's just say that his... labor laws weren't always... agreeable to his subjects?"

Twilight fumbles; this is the final inning; will she be able to salvage the slip up or is it game over for King Sombra's chances at attaining somepony to spend a night in the bedchambers with? Find out, right now!

"Pssh, Labor laws." Sanguine huffed and dismissively waved a hoof. "That is why you carry him around in your magic with a Null-ring on?"

Oh, this is interesting. Not many ponies would know about null-rings...

"How did you know about the null-ring?" Twilight asked in surprise, stopping suddenly.

"Ah, come now, Twilight. Ze subject is focused on you and King Sombra for ze moment, not myself!" she replied with a well meaning smile.

"Oh, would you look at the time!" Twilight abruptly announced, her voice full of false surprise. "Looks like we're going to be late if we don't hurry! It was nice meeting you, Sandwich!"


"Yes, that!" Twilight hastily agreed, cantering off quickly with myself and Spike in tow. I was facing towards our back, and saw a look of annoyance on Sanguine's face before she smiled and waved to me, soon trotting off to wherever it was that she was going.

Spike looked over his shoulder to find that Sanguine had dissapeared. "That was close." he shuddered.

I raised an eyebrow. "That was rude, Spike, not close." I looked with disappointment at Twilight. "Why the hasty retreat?"

"Would you want to explain to her why you're wearing a null ring, why you enslaved an entire country and why you can return from the dead?"

Probably. "Not at the moment."

"Then I decided that we should get you settled in the castle before we do anything. Besides, didn't you want cocoa?"


"I'll take that as a yes."

While I fantasized about a swimming pool filled with Cocoa, and then discarded the idea as quickly as I had thought of it, due to the thought of cocoa being difficult to wash out of my coat, being warm and none too pleasant to actually swim in, we had traversed through the town without incident.

"Is carrying ponies in a magical field normal, here?" I asked, realising how odd it was that not a single pony even looked at us strangely.

"Trust me, as far as Ponyville goes, this is tame." Spike assured me.

That... might prove interesting, actually. Of course this place is still a peasant mud-hole, but at least it might be an entertaining mud hole. As a side thought, I wonder how long Miss Sanguine will be staying in town...

"How far away is your castle from this town?"

"It's only a couple minutes. We're actually almost there. If you look up, you'll see the castle." Twilight replied.

I did as she suggested, and... why.

Why would you have a tree-house castle.

I know that Twilight is not the most tactically minded of ponies but...

"A treehouse?" I asked incredulously. "You're serious. A treehouse!" I folded my hooves across my chestplate. "I can't believe you had me somewhat excited to see a treehouse castle." I harrumphed.

Twilight stopped to look concerned at me. "What's wrong with it?" She then looked to her castle.

"Alright, let me list the ways nopony has ever considered a treehouse castle before in the history of history!" Twilight set me down for this, thankfully. "First of all, Not only do you have a Treehouse castle, but one that is made from Crystal."

"What's so bad about that?" Spike asked.

"Suppose somepony were to start flinging rocks at it with a catapult? Would it not shatter the foundations of your castle to shards of mineral?"

"Well... we're not at war with anypony..." Twilight reasoned.

"Very well, then how about this. Where is your moat? Your tactically superior position?" I took another look at the castle, and did a double take.

I can't believe this...

"You have a FRONT DOOR to your castle! No guards, no ramparts, no defensive emplacements!" I was ranting at this point, but this really irked me to witness! "This 'castle' couldn't hold off an army of upset peasants, let alone an army!"

"It's the Castle of Friendship?" she offered unconvincingly and with higher pitch in her voice accompanied with an awkward smile.

"That structure is as much a castle, as I am a charity worker!" I stomped my armored hoof for emphasis.

"Oh yeah? What makes your castle so special?" Spike challenged.

Oh, you poor fool. I grinned wickedly, causing him to be slightly unsettled from my sharpened teeth and fangs.

"High structure with a commanding view of everything for miles. Multiple guard towers with the ability to rain projectiles and spells from above with little need to defend themselves from their position. Absolutely no cover for an approaching force for the main roads and for the circle around the castle. The ability to see any approaching force days before they arrive, and an enchanted gemstone that prevents any deterioration or damage of the surrounding city, let alone the castle itself which is nigh impregnable. Do I need to remind you of the stairs and the enchanted doors?" I beamed with pride as I finished.

"We still defeated you!" Spike shot back.

I scoffed. "Please, fighting a fragment of myself would hardly be considered a challenge by any real practitioner of magic. You two probably got trapped by the anti-theft spell!"

"Oh look, we've made it to the front door already!" Twilight interjected hastily. "Looks like we'll just have to head on inside and find your room!"

"Your castle is going to need serious improvements before I even consider calling it a defensive fortification. Even Canterlot is better defended than this gem heap!"

Twilight groaned in annoyance and knocked three times on the door.

"What, do you not have the keys to the clubhouse, Sparkle?" I goaded.

"Coming!" I heard a voice call from inside. This should be good. I wonder what kind of pony would be a servant to the 'Princess of Friendship'. Perhaps anypony would, considering how adored the Sisters are. I rolled my eyes for my internal dialogue when the door opened.

Another mare, a unicorn as well. Light pink coat, purple shaded mane with a stripe of teal or bright greenish blue. Something, whatever. Purple eyes... boring. She's no Sanguine, that is certain.

"Twilight! I wasn't expecting you back so soon." The mare said with surprise. "How are you doing, Spike? Did the crystal ponies give you any trouble this time?"

"Eh... not so much the ponies as... well..." He stepped aside, pointing to me with his arms as if I were some sort of prize. "Ta-da..." He said nervously.

The unicorn then spotted me for the first time while I was brushing off some dirt that had gotten on my cape. Her surprised gasp both slightly startled me, and annoyed me. Great, another pony that is either going to cower in fear, not that I mind, or ask whom I am.

"King Sombra!?" She blurted out like a yell mixed with an excited squee.

I blinked and looked up towards her. I was not expecting that reaction. "Yes?" I asked cautiously.

"Twilight, you have to be serious with me right now. Is this a joke, or a prank or something, or is this really King Sombra?" She asked Twilight with concern.

"It's really King Sombra, trust me. We're sure."

"Well... I didn't know we were starting a halfway house for... recovering villains? Or are you starting a rehabilitation center for the recently evil?" She snarked.

"Something like that, actually." Twilight replied. "It's been a long journey, so we're going to get Sombra settled in. I'll tell you all about it then, okay?" Twilight said tiredly.

"Oh! Sure, I'll just... being doing things!" the unicorn shiftily responded, quickly moving away and around a corner.

"You keep interesting company, Sparkle." I conceded. "Perhaps my stay in this hole will not be as bad as I imagined..."

Well, at least after I had made a few... adjustments in the privacy of my sleeping quarters. I chuckled softly to myself, though I may have overdone it a tad.


"Sombra, are you alright?" Spike asked worriedly.

"Fine! Perfectly fine!" I waved a hoof in dismissal. "Worry not, small dragon!"

I kept my composure, but a few giggles actually escaped my royal mask.




"Sombra, seriously." Twilight complained. "Spike, could you just get him some Cocoa? He's having an evil giggle fit."

Is that actually a thing?

"Hehe, giggle-fit." I giggled.

Dreams and Things

View Online

Now that we had progressed inside of the castle, Twilight was leading me on a tour. There seemed to be endless rows of hallways with no clear purpose lined with doors to nowhere. The castle was also decorated more like some peasant's home than a place of commanding authority. I should have expected that, to be honest. What I could not have expected, is that she would allow a tree to grow inside of the tree-castle.

I pointed a hoof at the roots of some tree that had been decorated with lights, poking from the ceiling like it wasn't a grievous safety hazard and an eyesore. "Are you serious?"

Twilight groaned and rolled her eyes. "What now?"

I had been pestering her about the state of her pitiful 'castle' and It was getting on her nerves. That was a good thing, and when this castle was eventually assaulted, she might have time to thank me for warning her of all the flaws in her defense before the serfs overwhelm her. "You're letting a tree grow inside of your tree? What, do you have a fetish for foliage?"

"No, I don't have a fetish." Twilight harrumphed.

"You have a stained glass mural of a tree in your main entrance, Sparkle. There's trees on the walls like cave paintings. Your windows have branches!" I then looked upwards around the room. "You even have green and gold banners of trees!" I pointed with an exasperated hoof. "Admit it! You have an affection for trees!"

"What's wrong with trees?" She countered defensively.

"They burn! Easily!"

"Really? You're upset I have so many tree decorations in here because of firewood?" She asked incredulously.

"Do you know where firewood should be in a castle? In the fireplace."

"You're really going to rant about lumber now, aren't you?"

"Why would you even need this many tree decorations? Why would you need a fire pit when you can light a fire magically and not have to worry about smoke? Why do you live in a Treehouse-castle that's obnoxiously decorated with countless trees!?"

Twilight sighed dramatically before yelling, "Spike, where is that cocoa!? Sombra is having an existential crisis about trees!"

"If the peasants didn't need them, and they didn't provide the air in my lungs, I would deforest the entire planet just to be rid of the things!"

"What about all of the wildlife that need the trees?"

"Who would even care about wildlife? All they do is make more of themselves out of sight, hide or run away when things get the slightest bit too chilly, and steal food!"

Twilight sighed and whispered to herself. "This isn't helping him calm down, Twilight."

"You're very correct!" I replied in my hysteria that I was self aware of. It felt good to vent my frustrations, and I was going to ride this crazy train until I got my much deserved cocoa. "At the very least you should have embrasures in the main entrance to provide cover for your guards, of which you have absolutely none! Please tell me you at least have a lock on the front door!"

Twilight looked at be with confusion. "What's an 'embrasure'?"

My jaw dropped. "You're absolutely kidding right now."

She shook her head in the negative.


She nodded. I facehoofed and fell backwards with an exasperated groan. "I can't believe this." I threw all four of my hooves in the air very dramatically, it feeling both good to stretch and to provide a bit of drama. "The Alicorn Princess of a castle has no idea what am EMBRASURE is! What's next, I won't know a crystal when I see one? The dragon is afraid of fire? PEGASAI CAN'T FLY!?"

"Twilight?" I heard Spike call worriedly.

"Over here, Spike." Twilight replied. "He needs cocoa, stat."

My ears perked up and I sat upright quickly. "Cocoa?" I asked in a hush, my eyes flicking around a moment before locating the source of the sweet aroma. "Cocoa..."

Spike slightly recoiled in worry at my behavior, which amused me slightly. I was having fun acting like a peasant as I so seldom get the opportunity to drop my 'regal posture'. It gets very tiring, honestly. Eventually, my persistent staring at the dragon roused him into action, placing the cocoa in front of me on the crystalline floor. I blinked a few times before replying. "You expect me to drink from the ground like a peasant?"

Realizing his error, he quickly recovered the cup and sprinted off -carefully, as to not spill the cocoa- into another room. "I hope he is taking my delicious to a table." I grumbled, following after him. Twilight made some kind of upset tittering noise and wandered off elsewhere for the moment. I walked past several more banners depicting trees, still somewhat genuinely upset by the lack of diversity in the decorations. They could at least have placed some potted plants, glowing crystals or some kind of statue somewhere. A few paintings were present, mostly of her friends however. Some kind of rural farmer, an obnoxious pegasus with a lot of colors, a regal looking unicorn, the... literal embodiment of the color pink, the other unicorn I had met in the entryway previously... and some yellow pegasus I almost missed noticing. They didn't look like much, but they were apparently the bearers of the Elements of Harmony at some point.

"Sombra?" A voice called to my left. I turned to view Spike standing partially from the doorway, using a claw to cling to the wall and lean around the corner. "Are you going to drink your cocoa?"

I was now suspicious. "Why the insistence, Spike? Perhaps you've drugged it again?"

Spike immediately looked guilty. "No, I didn't drug it this time, I swear!"

"This time?" I hounded on him for the slip of information. Loose lips sink ships, after all.

"Uh, yes?" he replied, clueless.

"Uhg." I grumbled, covering my face with my hoof. "Whatever, whelp. Direct me to the cocoa."

He then leapt from the doorway, outstretching his arms to point into the room he had just come from. "Right this way!"

I cautiously walked past Spike, giving him a disapproving look and appearing as haughty as possible with my nose in the air. That lasted all of a single moment before my haughty nose detected cocoa in the air. I scanned the room quickly, eyes darting in search of the mug I had seen only moments before.

There it rest, placed gloriously upon the tabletop of a nearby... table. I rolled my eyes at my own descriptions for the events taking place before deciding cocoa was more important than self admonishment. Completely oblivious to anything except for the wafting steam from the cocoa, I hastily approached the divine beverage and knocked over a chair in my haste. I might not want to drink from the floor, but I can drink while standing perfectly fine. Besides, the chairs were crystalline. Have you ever sat upon a crystal, voice in my head? No, you do not have a body, so you couldn't have. Ha, take that, ethereal voice in my mind! You'll never have corporeal form!

I shook my head, refocusing my attentions upon the sight of the es-steam-ed cocoa. Hah, puns. I amuse myself. The cup itself was simple enough to hold, given my armored hooves preventing any feelings of heat through the metal. Unfortunately, it did not prepare me for the heat of the beverage itself. I immediately burned my tongue.

"Haa! Haaaht!" I cried, my tongue was burnt and I knew only pain. "Haaaaaaht!" I did a small dance, my hooves clanking on the ground while I tried to brush the hot from my tongue uselessly. I was rewarded with the taste of metal on the edges of my tongue that hadn't been burnt to a cinder.

Spike was laughing his scales off in the meantime, completely ignoring my pleas for help. He's so very useful, isn't he? I was beginning to immensely loathe my lack of magic even more than before. I knew a plethora of spells, all suited for every task I could imagine needing a spell for. One of which was to cool beverages. Another was to ensure they hadn't been poisoned or drugged. The one I was wishing the ability to use currently was a silencing spell, specifically for Spike.

"What's going on in... here?" I heard a voice call from outside of the room, soon wandering in to reveal the Unicorn from before. "Spike?" she asked, then looked to myself. I was standing on my hindlegs, still trying to brush the hot from my mouth and frozen like a deer caught with a fireball spell hurling towards them. Yes, I love hunting. I also love the taste of meat. You thought the pointy teeth were for show, didn't you? Silly voice in my head, you know nothing!

"Sombra?" she asked.

"Yeth?" I replied, my tongue still burnt. This caused Spike to laugh even more.

"Are you... okay?"

"Noh, mai tunn ith burn." I explained.

"Ooo...kay." She started backpedaling out of the room slowly. "I'm just... going to leave now." Her head was peeking through the doorway. "Nice meeting you- Bye!" she hurriedly said, vanishing.

I then set my hooves on the floor, my tongue sticking sideways out of my mouth to cool off. "Am juth goin uu go uu beh now." I sighed. I was tired; both from the journey, the encounter with Princess Luna, the walk through the village... and now rendering my ability to speak nearly useless. It was better to recover from this inconvenience than to make a mockery of myself further. I had no idea where my room would be, so I simply left the current 'kitchen' room and wandered through the halls looking for an unlocked door with anything resembling a cushion. Several minutes later, and after nothing of note had occurred, I happened upon a room with a very large double bed.


I readied myself for a galloping start and proceeded to leap across the room, directly onto the mattress. I bounced once unexpectedly, causing me to flip forwards due to the weight imbalance of my armor and land with my face in between two pillows.

Still perfect.

The pillows were extremely fluffy and soft. Combined with the bed's blankets and the overall tree-free aesthetic of the room, I was pleasantly surprised. If this wasn't my room, it was now. I wiggled my legs, causing my armoring to eventually pry themselves free of my hooves and clatter to the ground. With more vigorous wiggling, I pulled off the chest armoring I was wearing as well, leaving myself with just my snuggle blanket of a cape and my crown. I decided to place the crown gently on a nearby nightstand and curl up underneath the sheets. With my tongue slightly hurting, I tossed and turned for a while until I was finally able to sleep.



The best part about dreams is that I am allowed to do anything I want. Thankfully, I was aware enough of my current dream to be able to influence and direct it. I was floating aimlessly in a black nothingness, far as I could imagine. That would be easily fixed soon enough.

The setting would be the Crystal Empire. The Empire as it should be, with myself in power once again. The useless Crystal ponies would be my slaves as well, going about whatever inane task set before them to maintain my rule. This was a dream, and even in my own dream I would like everything to be in order and working smoothly.

I was atop my balcony overlooking everything, as I usually had been, when I decided to get creative. I wished a moat of boiling cocoa around my castle, included some chocolate alligators and marshmallow seagulls. I transformed the railing of the balcony into an array of cup holders, each holding a cup of Cocoa.

With that indulgence in place and the memory of cocoa's smell happily hanging around the atmosphere of my dream, I sought about improving what I could.


Actually, what was there left to add? I had my slaves, my Empire, my cocoa... Oh, my cocoa moat... Oh!

Sanguine, of course!

She was nothing more than an idle fancy, but still interesting. For some reason, she had caused enough of an impression for me to remember her. I strongly suspected that she was without any currency and simply riding the train from town to town looking for free meals, but... something about her intrigued me. Perhaps the accent?

I summoned my mind's eye view of Sanguine before me, and she stood blankly staring out to the empire from the balcony. I circled around her, some parts of her remaining blurred or fuzzy as I had never seen them or sought to remember. I even lifted the part of her mane that obscured half of her face, and looked upon empty blackness like a void. I had seen such a thing before when I came across a pony I couldn't fully view, but it was still unsettling.

"King Sombra!"

Huh? I didn't give anypony in my dream permission to speak...

I looked around the dream-realm I had created, everything in order and nothing amiss from where I had left it just a moment before. Odd.

"I need to speak with you!"

There it was again! Why does that voice seem familiar?

Actually, why is the world shaking?


"Huh, wha!?" I yelped, sitting bolt upright and looking around the room I had awoken in. It was the same one that I had fallen asleep in, so there was some small comfort in that. "Who?" I blurted in my tired haze.

"Sombra, focus!" The voice said. I realized at that point that it was morning time; obnoxious birds chirping outside of the window and the sun just beginning to blind me.

"Who is there?" I asked again, shielding my face from Celestia's obnoxious rays. The silhouette of somepony was obscured in a dark corner of the room, my eyes still failing to function correctly from my sleepy state.

"Keep your voice down, please!" The voice harshly whispered... with a specific accent.


"Eh... yes?" came the nervous reply. "Don't tell ze Princess I was here, ja?"

"How did you even get in here? Wait, don't tell me. I want to guess... Window?"


"Balcony entrance?"

"Zis is a large tree house; I can't fly, Sombra."

"Right, right... wait, no... don't tell me it was the front door!" I groaned, falling backwards onto my mattress and facehoofing. My hoof was less metallic than I remembered, before I remembered I removed my clothing before taking my nap.

"It... wasn't the front door?" She lied terribly.

"It doesn't really matter, Sanguine. Why are you here?" I dismissed the issue, deciding to get to the point so that I could return to my sleeping adventures. At least Dream Sanguine didn't question me or wake me up.

"Um... how should I put zis?" She started, still nervous and slightly annoying me at this point with her indirectness. "Your null ring-- how does it work and why are you wearing one?"

Nevermind, she went straight for the point. No riposte, no fallback, just a full on charge for the heart of the matter.

I pointed to the ring with my hoof, sitting upright on the bed. "This contraption around my horn prevents me from using my magic. Princess Twilight placed one on my horn so that I couldn't 'return to my evil ways', and so she could 'rehabilitate' me." I air quoted with hooves where appropriate.

"Evil ways?" She questioned.

Hmm... how should I phrase this? I could go straight for the truth as she had, but there's the risk it will ruin any chances I have with the mare. On the other hoof, mind control always works if I could convince her to remove the ring.

"Mind control, mass enslavement of an entire empire... and dark magic?" I replied with a shrug and non-committal 'Eh?'

Her expression had gone from curious to intensely focused after that, seeming to skim through scrolls that were incorporeal the way her eyes darted around. She also made a few noises of thought, muttered a few times while pacing and looked at me more than once. I simply sat on my bed and slowly became accustomed to the cushions while she mulled over what I had told her.

"Would you do it again?" She asked suddenly, standing next to me.

"As soon as my ring was removed." I blurted without thinking. Seriously? I just let that slip? What is wrong with me?

"Hmm..." she hummed, obviously. She had gone back into thinking mode, remaining stationary this time and rubbing her chin. "Would you mind control me?" She asked.

What is this mare getting herself into? Does she think that... oh, she must! The fool will probably remove my ring If I just tell her that I wouldn't!

"Ah... of course not!" I lied, though not as convincingly as I had hoped.

Her face scrunched in disappointment. Drat! What, did she want to be mind controlled?! "Well... I was thinking about helping you with zat ring of yours, King Sombra." She began before moving towards the door to my bedroom. "But, if you won't be honest with me and admit that you would enslave me, zen I can't trust you for what I'm planning. I'll see you around, Sombra." She explained cryptically.

"Hold a moment, what plan?" I asked as she opened the door.

"Try to make some friends, Sombra." she winked, closing the door behind her and leaving me terribly confused.

What could she possibly seek to gain by myself earning 'friends' of all things?

This would take some thought on my part to figure out, yet my sleep had been rudely interrupted. I would have to multi-task. I flopped myself back onto the mattress, completely ignoring the unlocked door as I doubted it even had a lock. Pulling my blanket/cape close, I drifted off to sleep once more.


Thankfully, my work previous had not been undone. Everything was as I had left it before being awoken, so it was a simple matter of walking inside of the dream castle and warping to the planning room. I placed Sanguine's form on top of a large circular table in the center of the room. The decorations were kept to a minimum, the walls were a discolored grey hue and clay-like in appearance. It took more effort than I was willing to indulge at the moment to give them a life-like quality anyway.

"Now, for my planning team." I said to myself in the dream, helping me focus on the task at hoof. I had three advisors I would always keep a mental image of, as they were influential in my life. Madame' Opera house, Lord Blueblood and... Oh no.

I shook my head, wisps of shadow falling from my form in the dream. I attempted to remember the third with all my ability, but their name nor appearance would come to me. Something was missing! An integral piece of me hadn't survived my re materialization! Either there was a problem with my method originally, or Sparkle had overlooked something and damaged me because of it.

"Grrr, no use in complaining. I will either recover their memory in time, or forget them entirely." I grumbled aloud. The images of Blueblood and Opera House were formed to my sides around the table. Blue on my right, Opera on my left.

"You've summoned us, King Sombra?" Blue tittered with amusement. "It has been quite a long time since we last spoke, you know."

"Yes, Blue. I am aware. I was dead."

"Dead?!" Opera asked with alarm.

"I recovered."

"Recovered from death? Surely you exaggerate!" Blueblood scoffed, his monocle needing readjustment as it had fallen from his face.

"I'll send you a 'how-to' guide." I snarked.

"This is all very distressing." Opera sighed, "I get the feeling that your 'recovery' is not what you've called us for?"

I pointed to the replica of Sanguine on the table. "That, is why I've summoned you."

Blue and Opera observed the mare, my subconscious causing her image to spin slowly clockwise for some reason-- Oh, You sly devil.

"Ahem." Blueblood interjected. "The mare?"

I pulled my gaze away from Sanguine as the 'portion' my subconscious had made me aware of drifted from view. "Yes. She came to my room and woke me from my sleep."

"Is that all? Normally we hear quite a bit more coming from the mares in your--"

"That's quite enough, Madame." Blue thankfully interrupted.

"Hmmph." She retorted.

"Could we focus, please?" I sighed, they nodded. "Alright. The situation is that I have a null-ring on my horn, placed there by a Princess Twilight Sparkle." I sassed, over emphasizing her name. "I cannot remove that blasted thing, and that mare was inquiring about the ring itself. She asked what I would do if it was taken off, and I lied when I told her she wouldn't be enslaved."

"How did you even come upon the misfortune of a null-ring?" Blue asked, swirling wine in a glass that I was certain I hadn't placed in my dream.

"I was dead, remember?"

"Right, right. Carry on, then."

"Anyway, she became upset and saw through my lie. I don't know if she wanted to be enslaved, or if it was some kind of test. Whatever it turns out to have been, I failed. Her parting words were for me to 'make some friends'."

Opera and Blue both raised a skeptical eyebrow at another before politely chuckling. When they had recovered, the conversation continued.

"This mare, would you happen to know her name?" Opera asked.

"She told me it was 'Sanguine.'"

"Hmm... I've not heard of any house by the name of Sanguine or similar." Blue added.

"Well I've been dead for a millennium. I would hope not, for your sake and my own sanity."

"It is heartwarming to know that you still care for us, Sombra." Opera cooed.

"Ech." Blue gagged.

"I love you too." I grumbled.

"The mare?" Blue strained to continue the conversation. "Do you know anything about her?"

"Well..." I became distracted as the 'portion' swung past my view again, annoying Blue and Opera. "Well, she has a very particular accent that sometimes slips in her speech. I think it might be Germane, perhaps?"

"Do you have any sampling of her voice?" Opera asked.

I thought with some difficulty, trying to piece together fragments of her voice I had heard only a few hours before.

"Oh?" Sanguine purred. "Ze great King Sombra graces us with his unclothed visage, does he?"

"Sombra, you sly dog!" Blue praised, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"It is definetly not what you think it is. That was entirely out of context!"

"It doesn't need context, darling. That was quite the sample you chose." Opera teased.

"I didn't choose that sample, it was my Subconcious-- Actually, you know what? I don't need this from my advisors. You're here to assist me with my next move, not to tease me." I grumbled.

Blue looked to me with a cheeky grin on his face. "Grumpy Grandpa Sombra." he teased with Spike's voice.

"How did you even get his voice!?" I almost shouted with annoyance, my frayed temper and agitated state causing the room to shrink down to simply the table and ourselves, floating on an abyss of dark nothingness.

"Easy, Blueblood. You'll collapse the dream." Opera chided.

"Fine, Opera. Have it your way." Blue sassed.

"Enough. I need a plan, you two."

"What harm is there in playing the part?" Opera suggested. "Surely it has gotten you this far. You may not have your power now, but surely any unicorn with sufficient power should be able to remove that ring of yours?"

"Or, you could simply tamper with the ring again as you've done previously. Twilight will notice eventually, but you will gain more of your power back every time you succeed." Blue suggested.

"Certainly, for all of the few moments he will have left before the Princess obliterates him again." Opera countered. "I spent my spare time looking through your recent memories, Sombra. To keep up to date, and all that business." She explained.

"Very well, Opera." I conceded.

"Fine, I agree with Opera's plan. Mine would only work in the short term, and subtlety is needed for the moment. When that ring is removed, whenever that may be, I suggest you not play your cards immediately. Wait for your power to fully rejoin you, and contact us once more." Blue finalized.

"I will contact you both whenever I deem fit, Blueblood." I snapped unintentionally. The dream must be getting to me at this point.

"You should gain some actual rest, Sombra dear. We will still be here when you return." Opera said soothingly.

I took in a deep breath and sighed wisps of shadow from my nostrils. "Very well. You two have been a great help to me, as always. I thank you for your insights."

"That's what you keep us bound to your soul for." Blue grumbled.

"And we're happy to serve, right Blueblood?" Opera challenged.

"Of course." Blue replied with forced smile. "Till next we meet, Sombra."

I nodded, and removed everything from my dream with the force of my will. I then sculpted a makeshift bed in the center of a void of shadow, as everything else was too taxing to replicate, and laid down to sleep. Unexpectedly, a hoof came from behind me and wrapped around my shoulders.

"Aaah!" I yelped, flipping myself to find Sanguine there in the other side of the bed in my dream. "Oh..."

I smiled devilishly.

"Oh!" I purred.

No, voice in my head. You don't get to see me 'relaxing' with Sanguine in my dreams.

Making 'Friends' and Aquaintences

View Online


What is that smell?

"Snf, Snf."

I bolted upright in my bed. I knew that smell...


A voice called from outside of my room. "Sombra, are you awake?"

"Yes!" I called back.

I flung the covers from myself with a free hoof, rolled out of bed and landed squarely on my hooves. Looking around, I found the bits of armoring that I had flung off before sleeping and began hurriedly donning them. My cape had decided to interrupt my efforts by blinding me and flipping over my head, but that was no distraction. I could put my armor on blindfolded! Or, in this case, Cape...blinded? Cloak-folded? Perhaps Blind-cloaked would be a better-- I am getting distracted; there is cocoa to be had!

Eventually I had freed myself of my cape clinging to my face and properly attained my attire. I then spun in place to face the door and moved with speed to open it, swinging the door wide to find...

"I remember you... somewhat. What do you want?" I asked of the pinkish coated mare I had seen in the castle earlier.

"Oh! Well, Twilight wanted me to come and find you for breakfast." She replied with surprise and a bit of nervousness.

"Was she too busy playing cook to find me herself?"

"Actually, Spike does most of the cooking around here. Twilight forgets to eat a lot."

"Somehow, this doesn't surprise me. Spike is an excellent chef."

Her eyebrow raised in surprise at me.

"What, I am incapable of commenting on a dragon's cuisine?" I challenged.

"No-no! It's not that, I just didn't expect something like that to come from... you, is all." She practically blurted, though her attempt to save face was marred by the slight jab at me in the end.

"Well, you have found me. Lead on, servant mare." I motioned to whichever direction the smell of cocoa was, yet something I had said upset the mare.

"My name is Starlight Glimmer, and I'm not a servant mare." She grumped.

"Let us see," I began, holding up a hoof as if I could count on it. I had seen minotaur do something similar, though they had fingers. The gesture itself just seemed to amplify the annoyance of whomever was on the receiving end anyway, regardless of extremities. "You follow Twilight Sparkle around her castle, in which you supposedly live. You probably clean messes around the castle to 'assist', since you most likely live here for free. You don't have gainful employment anywhere as if you're in the same position as me, you are untrustworthy at best. I will admit, you may be slightly more trusted than myself if you don't have a Null-Ring on, but you're as much a prisoner here as I am. So tell me, Starlight, at what point are you not a servant mare?"

"Twilight and I are friends! I'm not her servant!" she shouted back at me, my tactics of annoyance working far better than I had hoped.

"Friends, certainly. I'm sure you tell yourself that every night before you go to sleep." I scoffed. "You should know that Twilight considers me a friend as well. She's the Princess of Friendship. It is her mission in life to befriend everypony."

This upset Starlight even further, as she stormed off in a rage having nothing to actually counter my argument aside from insults and promises of retribution.

"Oh well." I shrugged. "Cocoa."

I later found my own path to the kitchen, Twilight and Starlight (Whom I realized have very similar names) chatting in the corner. Sparkle was attempting to soothe Starlight's worries and the both shot looks at me. Twilight gave a look of disappointment, Starlight gave one of hatred.

"I smell cocoa." I announced, looking around. "Where is the cocoa?"

Twilight whispered a few words to Starlight before walking over to me. "King Sombra, we need to talk." She said sternly.

Well, aside from bolts of magic flinging me into the wall I won't have much to worry about. "Yes?" I asked neutrally. "About what?"

"The way you treated Starlight!" She hissed. "What did she ever do to you?"

I pondered for a moment, my hoof rubbing my chin. "Well, she avoided me the first time she saw me. That was a little annoying. You sent her in your own place like a servant which irked me as well. Typically I am the one that sends for servants. She also knocked on my door."

Twilight seemed dumbfounded. "Seriously!?"

"What, does she knock on your door regularly? If so, you should have her hooves flogged for it. It can't do to have a servant constantly bothering their master unbidden, Twilight. As an Alicorn you should know that."

"She isn't a servant!" Twilight loudly protested, the volume of which caused me to recoil a bit. "She's my friend! I asked her to find you as a favor for me!"

She was getting very heated in her anger, her face actually turning red with small... flames? Are those FLAMES!?

I held up a hoof in worry that she was about to erupt into an avatar of fury right in front of my eyes. "All right, All right! I may have made an error in judgement!"

"May have!?" She repeated incredulously. "No cocoa for you!" She shouted, lifting me in a field of magic and floating me outside of the kitchen and slamming the doors behind me, dumping me on my face onto the floor.

"Well." I said to myself, my muzzle scrunched into the crystal. "That could have gone worse, certainly."

I had decided that getting outside of the castle was the most prudent decision, given the flaring tempers of both a unicorn without a null-ring and an Alicorn that was friends with said unicorn, both of whom were very upset with me. I had wandered around the castle until I found myself in the main entrance hall after around an hour of getting lost.

"Maybe she doesn't even need defenses. Any attacking force is going to starve to death before they even find the kitchen, let alone the main hall." I grumbled to myself. I hadn't eaten as punishment for my behavior, leaving me feeling very much like a colt again.

Suddenly, three knocks sounded on the front door of the castle. The door which stubbornly refused to be a gate, or a drawbridge, or something equally defensive and justifiable on a castle. Looking around, I found nopony to answer the door but myself. I opened the door after some difficulty in maneuvering the handle with my hoof to find three fillies staring back at me.

"Yes?" I asked of them.

"Uh, is Twilight home?" A yellowish mud filly with reddish pink mane asked.

"She isn't in the mood for visitors." I replied cryptically.

"Do you know when she'll be able to see us?" An orange feather duster with a purple mane inquired.

"Not the faintest."

"Hey, that's a really neat ring on your horn, mister!" The white unicorn filly with light pink and purple mane complimented.

"Oh, do you like it?" Well, Sanguine did tell me to make friends. If one of these fillies was a Unicorn, then it would be simple to befriend them.

"It's really fancy!" Muddy agreed.

"Where'd you get it?" Featherduster asked.

"It was a... gift, from Twilight."

"Can we look at it?" The unicorn asked hopefully.

Oh, this is perfect.

"You can have it, if you want. I have several of them that look identical to Twilight's, so she won't even notice. If she asks you about this one, just tell her that I gave you one of my spares." I replied nonchalantly. Internally however, I was madly cackling with glee. If this actually worked... Ooh, the possibilities!

"Are ya sure? It was a gift after all..." Muddy questioned uncertainly.

"What are your names, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Well I'm Applebloom," The muddy pointed to herself, "This here is Scootaloo, and she's Sweetie Belle!"


"Hello!" They chimed in cheerfully.

"Pleased to meet you. I am Sombra." I replied smoothly, pointing to myself.

"Wait, you mean you're the big smoke monster that was chasin' everypony in the Crystal Empire?" Applebloom asked.

"No, he can't be! Twilight said that King Sombra got shattered!" Scootaloo countered.

"Maybe they just have really similar names-- Like a Crystal Pony custom or something?" Sweetie reasoned.

Please oh please, do all the work for me. Please convince yourselves I'm harmless. Go on!

"But there isn't anypony we know of that has the same name as anypony else, is there?" Scootaloo countered again.

"Well, alotta my cousins all have the same soundin' name. Sorta." Applebloom said.

"Mister Sombra, do you have a big family?" Sweetie asked me.

"Yes! A very large family in the Crystal Empire. It's sort of a tradition, as you guessed, to name ourselves after famous historical figures." I put on a grumpy expression for show. "Unfortunately for me, I was named after a villain in our history. Imagine my surprise when the real Sombra appeared. Terrifying!"

"At least everything worked out in the end!" Scootaloo brightly provided.

"That is very true," I replied. Time to get back to the issue at hoof. "Would you still be interested in this ring of mine?" I asked.

"Yeah! I think Rarity's been lookin' for something just like it for one o' her dresses!" Applebloom chirped excitedly.

"That sounds splendid!" I replied sweetly. I remembered to refrain from smiling, given my sharp teeth would probably startle them. "All you have to do, is take it from my horn."

"Uh." Applebloom blurted.

"What?" Scootaloo added with a look of pure confusion.

"How?" Sweetie asked, interested.

"With your magic, Sweetie Belle. Think of it as a challenge!"

"I'm not that good with my magic, though." Sweetie replied uncertainly.

Just my luck! The one unicorn in Equestria that isn't good with magic! "You could always give it a try anyway! Think of it as an accomplishment if you can remove it, and keeping it as a reward for your ability."

"O-okay..." Sweetie said, her horn lighting up with a light greenish glow and locking onto the Null-ring.

The key to successfully removing a null ring is for the captive to remain perfectly calm and still. Any magical interference will cause the ring to lock on and be immovable while still in the grip of magic. With this in mind, I completely relaxed my mind and body, allowing Sweetie Belle the lack of resistance needed to remove the ring.

Come on.... You've got one task ahead of you. Make it perfect! I willed internally. I could feel her magic tugging at the ring, though she was straining already.

"Come on Sweetie Belle! You've got this!" Scootaloo cheered.

"Show that ring who's boss!' Applebloom added.

"Rrrrrr!" Sweetie strained, the ring coming off bit by bit from my horn. I lowered my head to allow the ring to slide off after a certain point, if this filly would ever reach that moment in time. Hopefully.


Any day now.


"I think I've got it!" Sweetie cheered, and indeed I felt a final tug from the ring as it popped free of my horn!

"Yes!" I shouted in triumph, finally free of the blasted ring!

I could feel my power rushing back into my body, my eyes venting out dark purple miasma like they should.

"Uh, Sweetie Belle?" I heard Applebloom nervously ask. "What did you do?"

"It wasn't me!" Sweetie cried. "I don't know what's going on!"

I opened my eyes as even more power flooded into me. This is marvelous! I couldn't help myself but grin maliciously.

"Do ya think we should get Twilight? Maybe somethin' went wrong?!" Applebloom yelled, a growing maelstrom of dark energy causing the three to back away from me.

"He's blocking the doorway!" Scootaloo pointed out.

I took a deep breath, feeling the shadows enter my lungs like an old friend. "Yeesss! Hahahah!" I laughed aloud gleefully. I was feeling the rush of power, the elation of finally being free and the overwhelming burden of being mortal slipping away from me with each passing moment.

"King Sombra!" I heard a voice yell from behind me.


I turned around to see Twilight and Starlight looking very angrily at me.

"You know what this means?" Starlight asked, grinning at Twilight for some reason.

"Teleportation time!" Twilight cheered, causing my blood to freeze.

"No, wait! I'll put the ring back on, I swear!" I pleaded desperately.

Both of their horns charged.

"No, stop!" I held a hoof up as if it would do anything, shadows swirling around my form.

"You asked for this!" Starlight cackled.














"Bluurrrgh!" I finally vomited on the floor. My eyes were blurry and I had no idea where I was, but everything about what had just happened had made my body feel like it had been sucked into a colossal whirlpool of sickness. I fell over onto the ground, thankfully free of my own vomit, and began to shake.

"Are you done?" Starlight asked with dark sarcasm. "We could always ask Room Service to clean up after you, if you want to go again."




I was in another room now, which one I didn't really have a clue. I was too busy dry heaving and feeling more miserable than I had as a mortal.

"You going to be okay with Sombra?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah, We're going to be good friends when I'm done." She replied sadistically.

I flailed a hoof weakly in the direction of Twilight's voice. "Help!"

"This one is all your fault, Sombra. Maybe next time you won't manipulate ponies and treat others badly!" she scolded.

"You're one...to...talk!" I shot back, holding my stomach from its attempts to vomit again.

I felt a hoof press onto my chest. I saw the blurry image of Starlight. "No, this was all my idea." She then grinned evilly.

At that moment, my body had enough, and I blacked out.

I later awoke in my own room, though curiously... the ring was missing? I sat up quickly, and immediately regretted it. My body tried to dry heave again, but only wisps of shadow came from my mouth this time.

No, it can't be. Did they really forget to put the ring back on?

I felt my horn with a hoof, finding it still armored, and confirmed the lack of null-ring.

This is very strange...

I tried to get out of bed, but instead morphed into a shadow and simply reappeared at the edge of it.

"Haha, yes!" I rejoiced. My body was getting used to being immortal and immaterial again! I hadn't even thought of transforming and already it was like muscle memory. For however long I had been asleep, I was gaining more and more of my power back. Suddenly, I remembered that the room had a mirror. I willed myself to it, and found my reflection staring back at me.

Small wisps of black shadow mixed with the purple venting from my eyes, just my head appearing from the cloud of shadows. Glowing green where the whites of my eyes should be with red iris' staring back at me. My horn slightly red at the tip and curved once more into a sharp point. I smiled at my reflection, seeing the sharp teeth had returned in their full form as well.


I willed myself into corporeal form, regaining my pony body as well as my enchanted armoring and snuggle cape of glorious fuzzyness. Taking a deep breath, the exhale vented a bit of shadow like smoke.

"I'll never get tired of that." I mused.

*Knock knock knock*

"You may enter!" I called reflexively. I probably should have prepared myself better, in case they were going to hurl me around with teleportation magic again but it was too late for that.

The door creaked open, finding Twilight and Starlight pushing the doors open and peering cautiously into the room before spotting me. A look of determination crossed their faces as they marched imperiously into my room.

"Oh, its you two. I don't know why I expected anypony e--"

There was somepony else. At least two some-ponies. Very tall, very regal... very large.

Two Alicorn some-ponies.

"--eh...heh." I blurted, my train of thought completely destroyed as 'Princesses' Celestia and Luna followed Twilight and Starlight into the room to confront me directly. A look of stern warning should I try anything was all I needed for my body to root itself to the floor. These two -even without the elements of harmony- were capable of moving the Sun and Moon! I barely had my power restored for what at most would be a few hours, and even then they would have the advantage of a thousand years to learn spells I could only dream of since being banished by the both of them.

"King Sombra..." Celestia said neutrally.

"Eh..." I was freezing up. The last time I had seen these two, they obliterated me instantly with rainbows. I didn't even have any time to set up new phylacteries, so the thought of permanent death was causing me to freak out.

"The Shadow." Luna finished.

"Hello?" I nervously greeted. I also backed away from the array of magical death in front of me, uncertain if their magic would work on my shadowy form yet not wanting to risk it in the first place.

"Princess Twilight has told me a lot about you, King Sombra." Celestia continued. "In the short time that the two of you have known each other, that is."

"This most recent development troubles us, however." Luna said. "You have regained enough power that the Null Ring will no longer contain you."

I don't like where this is going. If I couldn't be contained and I was a threat to their kingdom, they would obliterate me just like last time without a second thought. Well, the first time it had simply been because of my mind controlling of other ponies. Now, they had all of Equestria to look after as well as my Crystal Empire under control of Cadance. I was a threat by simply existing now, whereas before I was a novelty with that Null-ring on.

"This leaves Equestria in danger." Celestia said firmly. "Something I cannot allow."

"W-wait!" I blurted desperately. "I can be nice! I swear!"

"We have seen your attempts at being 'nice', King Sombra." Luna snapped. "Manipulating innocent fillies to free yourself is not 'kindness'."

"I-uh, I can change?" I offered with continued desperation at not wanting to be obliterated.

"Doesn't seem so calm and collected now, does he?" Starlight snickered quietly to Twilight.

Celestia and Luna shot a glare of suspicion at me before looking to Twilight. After a while, and a throat clearing cough to gain Twilight's attention, she realized she was being put on the spot.

"Oh!" She suddenly blurted in realization. "Well, I'm always willing to give a pony a second chance... or a third... or maybe a fourth, in your case."

"Truly? After all Sombra has done you offer him another chance for redemption?" Luna asked in surprise. "We would not be so lenient."

"If somepony like Discord can change, then I think we should give Sombra a fair chance too." Twilight reasoned.

"If I remember correctly, giving Sombra a chance is what resulted in this confrontation." Celestia pointed out calmly.

"Well... I think I did it wrong." Twilight admitted with a tone of shame.

"What do you mean?" Celestia asked with raised brow to Twilight.

"When we offered to be friends with Discord, we accepted him as he was. With Sombra, I took away everything that meant anything to him, which for him means his powers."

That much was true. I felt worse than naked without my power.

"He was probably lashing out at everypony because of how I was treating him... and I want to apologize." Twilight said to me, walking closer and causing Celestia, Luna and Starlight to stiffen in worry at her approach.

"You're..." I blinked. What is even happening right now? "You're apologizing?" I asked incredulously.

"I shouldn't have been treating you like a prisoner. I'm the Princess of Friendship, not the Princess of Prisoners." She smiled lamely at her own joke.

Snarky reply, or thankful reply? I looked at the death glares from the other Alicorns in the room and the dark grin from Starlight. Thankful reply it is!

"I... um... Thank you?" I replied uncomfortably, the words feeling like disease on my tongue.

Then, she hugged me. Very tightly.

"So... disaster averted?" Starlight asked everypony in the room.

"So it would seem." Celestia replied.

"Do not hesitate to call on us again, Princess Twilight." Luna bowed officially.

"I'll be sure to let you know about everything that happens!" Twilight replied dutifully.

"We ask that you leave out his favorite dishes, Twilight." Luna grumbled a bit. "His daily intake of Hot Cocoa is something we do not need to know."

Twilight nodded abashedly. "I'll be sure to remember that!"

I flinched as the Alicorn Sister's horns charged, having flashbacks already to the rapid teleportation I had just undergone. Thankfully, the two vanished in a loud poof of magic from the room. Breathing a shadowy sigh of relief, I looked to Twilight and Starlight.

They looked back at me, and nopony said anything for quite some time.

Thankfully to break the tension, Spike wandered in with a plate of Sandwiches. "So, did we win?" He asked Twilight before spotting me. "Oh."

"Hello, Spike." I said evenly, still looking at Twilight and Starlight as if they would attack me, were I to make any sudden moves. "How was your... day?"

"Good! I'm kinda surprised you're still here though." He replied honestly.

Starlight snickered at Spike's blunt answer.

"Are those sandwiches for everypony?" I asked cautiously to Spike.

"Yeah! Where did Princess Celestia and Princess Luna go?" He asked Twilight.

"They went back to Canterlot, Spike."

"Oh. Well, I made them sandwiches. If they're not here to eat them, then I guess that means more for everypony!" He replied cheerfully, balancing the plate on one claw while taking a sandwich from it to neatly bite into. "Ey, is'shish preddy guhd." He said with a mouthful of sandwich, wandering away from the room.

Then I remembered. I was immortal now, comprised of dark magic, shadow and... more magic. Could I even eat anymore?

"Something wrong?" Twilight wondered aloud, placing a hoof on my armor and startling me.

"I was..." I looked to Twilight with a hint of sadness. "Can I still drink cocoa?"

Interesting Information and Immortality

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I stared down at the small puddle of hot cocoa on the floor. It was apparently true that due to being composed of dark magic and shadows... I could no longer enjoy cocoa. It simply fell straight through the bottom of my mouth and onto the crystal floor.

"This can't be happening," I stated with a calm tone that I didn't relate to internally. I gestured to the puddle with my shadowy hoof, "This is just entirely unacceptable."

I could hear Starlight snickering at my expense in the distance, but her amusement didn't concern me. What did concern me was the possibility of never having cocoa again. In the long run it certainly wouldn't force me to change my mind about immortality (Who wants to be flesh and blood, really?) but still, not being able to have cocoa was a setback for my own happiness.

"So are you gonna clean that up, or do I have to?" Spike asked with a bit of snark, a rag and a bottle of some cleaner prepared already.

"I'll... deal with it, Spike." I replied reservedly. Perhaps I could experiment on a new cup of cocoa to somehow infuse it with myself? No, that would be ridiculous; Sombra, The Great Chocolate Cloud! Bah. I took the rag from Spike's claw with my own magic, steadily crackling with dark power and a cloud of purple-green miasma. Using my power for something as mundane as cleaning didn't bother me for the moment. I was distracted by the future implications of my immortality now that the price of which had reasserted itself. In retrospect, it was no surprise why I hadn't discovered the beverage sooner. Why would I care about some cocoa if I didn't need to eat in the first place?

"He's zoning out again, just ignore him." I heard Spike whisper to somepony in the background. I rolled my eyes, causing the magic that perpetually vented from the sides of my eyes to perform a spiral of purple whisp...ness. There was a word for that, I'm sure. Regardless, the rag was now soaked with the failure of my cocoa-sipping experiment and was soon magically tossed into a nearby sink. I looked to see whom Spike had been talking to and saw Twilight, Starlight and Spike simply staring at me in mild shock.

"What?" I asked, looking between the three and their slightly agape mouths.

"You cleaned something?" Starlight asked before a sly grin spread on her face. "Does that make you the servant now?"

My eye twitched. It occurred to me that I had the power to obliterate this unicorn with a thought, but what would be the point of that? I could mind control her, but then the Alicorn quartet would sing a dirge of my impending doom.

"Sombra, are you alright?" Twilight asked with concern, approaching me cautiously. "You don't seem like your usual self..."

I suppose my mask had been slipping. "I am fine, Sparkle."

"You're sure? You're normally more..." She tried to find the right word for a moment, "Aggressive?"

"When I was a mortal, perhaps." I conceded. "I have greater concerns now than trivial rivalry."

"Twilight, I'm scared." Spike stated, moving closer to his Master/Mother/Caretaker... whatever Twilight was to him. "He's being calm, he's not plotting something and he's..." He gestured with both his arms at me, "He's not being evil!"

"I assure you, Spike, I could be evil right this moment if I wanted to." I sighed, looking to the sink with the dirtied cocoa rag, "What would be the point? Were I to enslave Ponyville, The Crystal Empire, Canterlot or anywhere else, there are already four Alicorns ready to defeat me at a moment's notice. I may be evil, but I am no fool. If I am to remain in Equestria and not fear for my continued existence, there is little point in petty brutality."

"So..." Twilight asked with rising hope and cheer, "That means you'll actually try to be nice?"

I held up a hoof. "With one exception, Sparkle... If I find that 'friendship' is a waste of my time, then I will leave Equestria. You and the other alicorns cannot be everywhere at once and there is always a weakened species somewhere without strong leadership."

Twilight's face scrunched in uncertainty. "Well, I guess that's someplace to start."

"So, what. Do we finally tell the others about Sombra being back from the dead and living in the castle, and working on being reformed?" Spike questioned skeptically, obviously worried for his friend's reactions to my existence.

"Well, we don't really even know what friendship lessons Sombra needs to learn are yet. With Starlight, no offense, we pretty much just started at the beginning and went from there. Sombra's been around a lot longer, haven't you?" Twilight asked.

"I doubt enslaving ponies and ruling an empire of mindless zombie servants counts as 'making friends', Twilight." Starlight sassed.

You should've seen some of the nobles; 'mindless zombie' would've been a compliment.

Spike commented back with a slightly disapproving tone. "That's pretty rude, Starlight."

"It's true though!" she rebutted. This conversation was boring me quickly, so I decided to venture out of the room as a cloud of shadow. "Where are you going?" Starlight blurted.

My shadowed head moved through the cloud of myself to view Starlight. "You three are trying my patience. Find me when there is something to actually accomplish. In the meantime, I will be exploring the village."

"But we haven't even told anypony about you!" I heard Twilight shout after me.

Good. Perhaps something interesting will happen.

Reaching the outskirts of the town I decided it would draw less attention and gawking peasants if I appeared to look as normal as possible. With that, I reformed myself as a 'regular' Sombra and began my journey onward. Thatched roofs of straw and hay were common as well as the multi-colored buildings placed around town without any layout for defense in mind. The town hall could be seen even here, the tall building dwarfing everything else quite easily. What drew my attention however, was a building decorated like a hodgepodge of cakes and other desserts near the town center. Ponies seemed to travel frequently around that area and gave me only curious glances before moving about their business.

I suppose if an Alicorn living in your backyard is commonplace, seeing a unicorn dressed as a king wouldn't be that jarring an experience.

"Hey mister," A young sounding voice chirped at me, "What's your name?"

I looked down to see a small brown mud pony looking curiously at me with some kind of propeller hat on. "Sombra," I replied neutrally.

"Oh... I just remembered my mom told me not to talk to strangers. Bye Mister Sombra!" The muddy idiot waved at me with his hoof, trotting away towards some flashy building with bright boxes, garish designs on smaller boxes with... light coming out of them and very loud noises.

Is this what life has come to since my absence? Random ponies milling around, doing their own activities and politely greeting another? I observed those few ponies in my surroundings and confirmed that ordinary meant sharing sandwiches and conversing in the sunlight. Odd; not a single one of them held a weapon they could bear in self defense. What if a bandit party were to raid? Well, on second thought there is an Alicorn in this town, though I doubt she would do more than invite them inside her 'castle' for some cookies and friendship...

"Hello, have you seen my colt?" A mare's voice asked me. I pulled away from my observations to witness yet another mud pony, tannish-brown in coloration this time with a vanilla mane. "He just came wandering through here and I've been trying to find him. He's been running off to that arcade to play games instead of doing his homework!"

She seemed upset at this, whatever it meant. Homework? Arcade? They meant nothing to me. Still, even a thousand years ago a mare knew how to look after their foals and fillies. "Perhaps you should teach your colt some discipline then?" I suggested.

She was clearly offended by that remark, scrunching her face and withdrawing a hoof from me as if disgusted with my presence. "Who are you to tell me how to raise my little Button?" She scoffed.

"I am a King, a Necromancer, a Scholar, a Philosopher and a one time father. I am also a unicorn, a fact you would do well to remember should you think to upset me, muddy." I sneered back.

Now she was even more offended. "Pah, I'm sure somepony like you would think highly of themselves, dressed like that!" She retorted, pointing out my armor and cape like they were rags. "Nopony dresses like that anymore, you know!"

I frowned. I had hoped this could become a somewhat productive battle of wills, but alas, it had already devolved into schoolyard taunts. Rolling my eyes, I decided that the best course of action was to simply remove her from my presence. My eyes glowed with power as dark miasma poured from my horn, enshrouding the mare in a green and purple haze that drowned out her screams. When the fog cleared, she was under my control.

"Well, Button's Mom, or whatever your actual name may be; I have a task for you." I stated clearly, though still fed up that I even had to waste my time with this situation.

"Yes, King Sombra." She replied in a droning monotone.

"Find your 'little Button', the colt you apparently care so dearly for, and raise them properly. Don't let them slack off, or nothing they ever strive for will get accomplished. You've been too lax a parent, and now you pay the price for your negligence."

"Yes, King Sombra." she bowed, before trotting off in a stupor towards the 'arcade'.

Some things never change. Negligent parents, governments run by the citizens, taxes and war. It's a wonder that I was able to do away with all of that before the beloved dynamic duo of Princess Celestia and Luna ruined everything for me. They may have seen mind control as horrible and evil, but what choice was there really? Try to convince ponies to accept another to rule over them? They could hardly follow their own parent's advice as just recently witnessed. What hope did they have to obey when the greater good demanded obedience? Throw away their free will? No, they always fought to the death to keep working in storefronts and pay their bills a week late. All of that nonsense is partially the reason I even sought necromancy in the first place. Who has to live in a home and pay taxes or eat food when you're comprised of shadow and magic? Well... I wouldn't have cocoa any time soon, but that was a trivial price by comparison.

Still... cocoa.

I took a deep breath out of habit, realizing that I didn't need to breathe anymore. I vented out shadow from my nostrils anyway. It somehow relieved stress like a comforting exercise. Looking around the town more, I noticed a cloud drifting towards the town. Turning my head and squinting, I realized that it was headed directly towards me, not the town. Curious...

I stood there, simply observing the cloud as it continued its determined approach. A small strand of rainbow stuck out from behind it, acting like a ship's rudder. Something was definitely off. Clouds didn't have sentience the last time I was alive... but then again, the sun and moon weren't controlled by two alicorns either. The cloud eventually hovered directly overhead and I witnessed what looked like a periscope poke through the clouds to look at me.

"Enough of this." I grumbled, lighting my horn with magic and creating two large claws above the cloud in order to rake anything out of it.

"Aaaah!" A voice shrieked, darting quickly away from the magical claws and dissipating the cloud. A rainbow colored streak flew off into the distance directly away from me.

"What, are the rainbows making a comeback as guardian of the realm?" I wondered aloud, dissolving my magic and causing the claws to vanish. I knew that there was something spying on me, but that figure moved far too quickly for me to get an accurate look at whatever it was supposed to be.

No matter, I'll simply follow it.

A great benefit to being immortal is that fatigue becomes nothing more than a bad memory. This is even more a factor when I can simply transform myself into a cloud of shadow. I followed the trail of rainbow speeding away from me to discover the source of this nuisance. This also gave me time to think about what I would do with the culprit capable of controlling the weather to spy on me. Although I couldn't match pace with this speeding rainbow, I was still fast enough to spot it flying straight for Twilight's 'castle'. Through the front door, no less.

Sparkle is controlling the rainbows? Why does she need to spy on me if she can just teleport to me?

I decided I would find out soon enough and descended towards the front door. Unsurprisingly, it was left wide open. Not as if closing it would've made the slightest bit of difference in security.

"Twilight! Where are you!?" I heard the same voice shout in a panic, "Sombra is back, and he's in Ponyville!"

I leaned around the entrance to the front door and spotted a very distressed looking rainbow colored feather duster in the main foyer of the castle. I decided to continue sneaking around as a smokey shadow, sticking to the cracks and crevices of the 'treehouse-monstrosity' to follow her.

"If Sombra did anything to Twilight... Ooh, I'm gonna find some way to use the Elements on him!"

Wait... what? They didn't have access to the Elements of Harmony? This was very interesting, as the only things that had defeated me in the past had been those Elements and the Crystal Heart itself. If the Elements were out of the picture, then all I would have to worry about would be the Crystal Heart...

"Twilight, come on! I need to talk with you!" She shouted again, flying towards the kitchen with myself in stealthy pursuit. "Twilight?" She called into the room, and earned no reply. "You've gotta be somewhere!" the Pegasus reassured herself, continuing onward. This continued for a longer amount of time than it really should have, but given the vast interior of the castle I was none too shocked when she found Twilight in the last place anypony would expect to look for a bookish nerd.

The Library.

Seriously, you'd think that I would've thought of that sooner. No points of intelligence deducted from either myself or the feather duster, as she was the blind leading the stupid in this case. Nevertheless, she found Twilight, Starlight and Spike all huddled around a very large tome sitting in the center of the library of the castle. A few other scrolls were laying around haphazardly with no concern for being stepped on as well, accompanied by frantic scribbling and nervous glances.

Oh, this should be good.

"Twilight! There you are!" The rainbow shouted, darting quickly over to the group and disturbing their work with a gust of wind that caused most papers to fall off of the table. "King Sombra is back and he's running around Ponyville!"

The other three shared an awkward glance before facing the rainbow. "Well... that's something we were going to tell you about. Eventually." Starlight explained, earning a surprised look from the rainbow-duster before it melted into complete confusion.

"Bu-huh?" she blurted, nervously glancing to Twilight for answers.

"Well... do you remember when I had to visit the Crystal Empire for a few days?" Twilight began with rainbow-mane nodding, "That was pretty much when I... resurrected King Sombra."

"You what!?" the featherduster shouted in surprise. "Why!?"

Now this was going to be interesting. I had simply assumed that she either collected my phylacteries to better resurrect me, but if she actually went through all the effort to bring me back from the dead herself? That was something I could appreciate on so many levels.

"I was thinking a long time about how we dealt with Discord when he first appeared. We used the Elements on him, and he turned to stone, right? But that didn't solve the problem, that just put it on hold until he broke out again. So that made me wonder how long it would be until somepony else would have to deal with King Sombra when he eventually returned. Would they even be able to defeat him? What if he was stronger the next time? What if there wasn't any way to actually defeat him?" Twilight monologued, quickly becoming a stream of thought. "If there was no way anypony could defeat King Sombra in the future, then we would have to deal with him while we still could, right?"

"But why bring him back? Then we'd just have the same problem and without the Elements of Harmony! We can't just carry around the Crystal Heart with us everywhere either." The rainbow mare countered.

"Because I figured that I could befriend him, like Fluttershy did with Discord! If he became our friend and learned the secret of friendship, then he could really help out Equestria as a whole!"

"Yeah," the rainbow deadpanned, "like Discord is such a big help."

I really should meet this 'Discord' fellow at some point.

"Think about it, Rainbow Dash!" (Seriously, her name was Rainbow Dash? You know what, never mind. I'm not the one that named her. Leave it to a Pegasus to essentially name their filly 'Color Fast'.) "What is Sombra known for?"

"Mind control, slavery, and being a huge pain in the flank?"

"Well, yes, that, but other things too! I've been re-reading some passages about who he was before he was corrupted by dark magic and-- look!" She shoved a large book into Rainbow's face with magic, causing her to back up a bit to actually read it. I decided to slink forward underneath the carpetting that was present in the library and stick to the mare's shadow to gain a peek of my own.

King Sombra: 1620 BB - 1AB, Deceased(?)

Last Name unknown, past ruler of the Crystal Empire. Ruled for the entirety of his mortal life before being the first pony to master Dark Magic, a practice currently banned as of 1000BB to the present time by Princess Celestia. All knowledge, records and notes of King Sombra's discoveries into the realm of Dark Magic have been purged by the Royal Court. Any attempt to delve into Dark Magic will be met with swift action.

I rolled my shadowy eyes. Typical. Ban anything you're uncomfortable with, ignorant foals.

Known largely for his later years and confrontation with Princesses Luna and Celestia in the year 1002 BB, King Sombra was(is) a master of mind based magic, shadow magic, dark magic, enchantment, transmogrification, manipulation and matters of state, country, leadership and overall management. In his years as a mortal, King Sombra devoted his life to the study of magic and learning--

"Hey, that sounds like you, Twilight." Rainbow pointed out, poking that specific line in the book with her hoof.

"Eh... just keep reading." Twilight nervously replied, focusing our attentions back to the page.

Becoming upset with the overall governance of Equestria, he journeyed to the remote location of the Crystal Empire. There, he continued his studies in magic and state, seeking a position in the government to better acquire materials needed for his studies and to streamline the local government to be less wasteful with its resources. The Crystal Empire's nobility is well documented to spend a ludicrous amount of bits and its equivalent currency on practically nothing of use, while leaving the peasantry to fend for themselves.

If they only had a brain, the useless ingrates. The only two of them that held anything between their ears were Blueblood and Opera House.

Finding that his ideas would largely be ignored, he became very upset, delving into Dark Magic to find a way to bend things to his liking. Eventually, and through methods unknown due to the literal scorching of information related to the subject, the now dubbed 'King' Sombra eventually mind controlled the entirety of the Crystal Empire. Some debate still goes on to this day about the Pros and Cons of mind controlled populations, but not in Equestria. King Sombra's direct control and influence on the Crystal Empire lead it to become an extremely productive and profitable country, though the land and ponies themselves suffered greatly. King Sombra would not allow his subjects to die, tying their souls to the Crystal Heart itself and storing it away so that it could not be used to purify his soul. It is currently unknown if the Crystal Ponies that are alive today are immortal, or simply living longer lives than usual, given the lack of information to date about Crystal Ponies in general.

If nopony has gone and shattered the Crystal Heart, I'm sure it's still working. Though I don't honestly know what it would take to do something like that.

King Sombra was initially banished by Princess Celestia and Princess Luna in the year 1002BB. Recently however, he has made a short return. Given the unknown nature of Dark Magic and the fact that King Sombra was able to resurrect himself, it is unknown if he may return again, thus giving the possibility of his death to be left in the air.

The three looked up from the book. "And you wanted to bring him back, why?" Rainbow asked with confusion.

"Just think about how much he could help out places like Manehattan, or Baltimare! Those cities are full of overspending and corruption."

She brought me back from the dead to do paperwork?

"You brought back an un-killable mind-controlling villain to do taxes?" Rainbow deadpanned, "Only you, Twilight."

"Not taxes!" Twilight quickly defended herself, "I was hoping he could figure out a way to make all of Equestria... better, somehow. He did it with the Crystal Empire!"

"Twilight, he mind controlled everypony. I don't think that's better."

"Well... He was coming back anyway!" Twilight snapped, becoming upset.

"What? How?" Rainbow asked.

"I got a letter from Princess Cadance," Twilight began, unravelling said letter and showing it to Rainbow. She read it over as Twilight explained. "She said that dark magic was beginning to reform itself on the edges of the Crystal Empire again, and she thought it was King Sombra. She wanted me to go in secret to have a look and to find out what could be done, so I... may have tampered with his phylacteries a bit." she smiled nervously.

You better not have messed them up, Sparkle.

"What do you mean?" Starlight asked, interested suddenly. "Wouldn't that be dangerous to work with Dark Magic?"

"Ehh... Princess Celestia might have shown me a thing or two about Dark Magic when I was still a unicorn." Twilight explained sheepishly.

"She what!?" Spike, Starlight and Rainbow shouted.

"It was just a baseline! Nothing too bad!" Twilight blurted.

"Why does Celestia know Dark Magic!? That's like, the complete opposite of everything she should know!" Starlight complained, extremely confused.

"She's an Alicorn! I'll bet she knows all kinds of magic just to defeat dumb ponies like Sombra!" Rainbow countered in defense of the Princess. I didn't even mind the insult directed my way. It came from a feather duster.

"Yeah, like she did with Chrysalis?" Starlight snarked.

Chrysalis? That's an interesting name...

"She was totally faking it! Nothing can really bring down Princess Celestia, right Twilight?" Rainbow rebutted, looking to Twilight for confirmation.

"Yeah, Rainbow." Twilight replied uncertainly. "She's unbeatable..."

"See! Told ya!" Rainbow smirked, completely oblivious to Twilight's reservations.

I decided that enough time had passed and all the information I was going to lean from this eavesdropping had run its course. I decided for the most dramatic entrance possible, skirting around the edges of the room and slowly condensing my body, causing the room to become pitch black and covered in shadow.

"So... I hear you've been talking about me, Twilight." I ominously voiced from every side of the room at once as they looked around in nervous panic.

"T-twilight, what's going on!?" Rainbow stuttered, yet at the same time moving in front of the other three protectively. Admirable.

"Sombra, cut it out!" Starlight yelled at the shadows around her.

Eugh, fine. It doesn't work nearly as well when the ponies you're trying to scare know its you. I anti-climactically withdrew all of my shadow towards the center of the room on the carpet, reforming my body in a proud stance adorned with my usual clothing and armor.

"Nothing bad, I hope?" I said with a smirk.