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Everything posted by dragonofruin

  1. The mare dipped her head. "I would," she replied with a smile. Her ears twitched towards the little filly as she fell into step next to Aster, shortening her longer strides so that she wouldn't outpace the filly on their way towards Ponyville. "It's perfectly fine. I imagine there are a few other ponies out there who might stay up to watch the moon rise, but it would be nice to have company while I do." She normally raised the moon from her balcony when the time came, and nopony was ever with her when she did. It could be lonely on occasion, but Luna had long since become familiar with being alone to the point that she'd adjust a little too well to it. Now, being around so many ponies, especially in an Equestria that was worlds different from the one she once knew, could be a little nervewracking. Aster's voice broke the silence of her thoughts again, and an ear twitched the filly's way. "Money reasons? I see.. Why are orphanages not better funded and handled? I would think that they would receive more support, especially when my sister has such a soft spot for foals," Luna mused, a small frown on her face. Volunteers. She exhaled softly through her nose. Her troubled feelings about Aster's orphanage was quickly set aside when a rustling came from the forest foliage, louder this time. Luna came to a halt, falling behind Aster for only a moment to warily eye the bushes and underbrush with a sharp teal eye, her wings coming half unfurled in preparation. Whatever it was hadn't yet chose to reveal itself, something that both relieved and troubled Luna. Was something watching them? A curious animal that was more afraid of them, or a hungry beast waiting for the right time to pounce? Giving the forest a last, stern glance, Luna turned away and trotted after Aster, easily catching up with the smaller pony. Luna would shadow her without a word, her half-unfolded wings still held out from the sides of her body just in case she needed to spring into action at a moment's notice.
  2. The king snorted softly and gestured imperiously at her with a hoof, something that said never mind it. She didn't have to apologize to him about falling asleep after her strenuous efforts with spellcasting. "If you need to eat and rest, do so," he replied aloud. His red eyes returned to the book that was lying open in his forelegs and he considered its pages for a minute, pondering. Remaining here for the time it'd take her to eat was far more tempting than sitting in the kitchen with her and half watching her eat; it was awkward, and probably uncomfortable for her to be watched. Sombra shrugged and waved at her to go on. "I think I'll linger in here while you eat. I won't be going anywhere. Get your food," he bid her. If she was so heavily affected by a dream, or a nightmare, that she would wake up crying, he'd rather let her have some time to herself anyway, and not just to eat. He watched her go and returned his attention back to his book once her tail had disappeared through the doorway, out of his view. It took him until the next couple of pages to start thinking about Raven's issue again, now that she was awake, and considering the possibilities. An amulet might not work. Her problem was her horn, and particularly the crack. Even if she didn't want something to cover her horn entirely.. why not something decorative, like a ring or a band? Sombra wasn't sure what sort of magic-altering items existed, beyond this alicorn amulet that Raven mentioned, or even how one could be made, although he had his own ideas. He'd made something that was a mixture of metal and magic before- his armor. It was how he could get around his lack of knowledge on smithing, which was something he would like to learn sometime. It'd be a useful skill.. He decided to remind himself to ask Raven about the alicorn amulet once she returned, and bring up his few ideas. Such a thing as what he'd proposed might be uncommon, but it wasn't going to stop him from making something himself. Partly to test his own skill, of course.
  3. A soft chuckle bubbled up out of Luna's throat and she waved the apology away with a hoof. "'Tis a pleasure to meet thee, Aster. You need not apologize for that. I am sometimes a daydreamer myself, and I get lost in thought if I allow my mind to wander. It tends to happen to the best of us." Still smiling, the mare stood, though that smile faded somewhat when the rustling reached her ears. Sharp teal eyes glanced off into the direction the rustling had come from, and she warily eyed the foliage in question, poised and waiting to see if something might slip out. When nothing happened, the princess relaxed a little. She wasn't too visibly tense, not enough so that the filly might notice, if she did. "It is, actually. The night should soon begin, or my sister will worry." Her smile returned in full, indicating that she was making a joke. There was some history behind it, but the humor was there nonetheless. She loosened her wings at her sides and started to turn in place to orient herself towards Ponyville, but the word orphanage brought her to a stop. It troubled her and she tried not to let it show on her face. The fact that orphanages existed in Equestria at all... "They should feed you regardless of what time you come back," Luna murmured, sounding a little more subdued. It wasn't that she was unhappy, although she was somewhat displeased with the orphanage's way of running things, she was just -- quieter. The alicorn flicked her curled forelock out of her face with a slight toss of her head and took a few steps forward, trying to gather herself while Aster collected her own belongings. "Shall I walk you home? It would be of no issue, to ensure you return safely. If I need to raise the moon along the way, I will; I don't need to be in any place of importance to do it."
  4. The grey stallion's head tilted. Did they? "I have little idea if they truly do. I was thinking of creating one, one that might assist your horn with properly channeling the magic you need for a spell. It may work, or perhaps we can craft something that might help you put the correct amount of magic behind the spell that you're trying to cast until you learn it for yourself, without it." He shrugged and made a note of this alicorn amulet Raven mentioned. If it was forbidden he wanted to know about it, and maybe even possess it. Out of his own curiosity, of course. Sombra made a mental note to ask Raven about it later when he noticed she was looking considerably more tired than before. "Maybe," he repeated, nodding her way. Falling silent, he allowed the mare to slip into a rest she needed, and as she did he saw the small smile that'd appeared across her muzzle. The reason why entirely escaped him, and he simply chose to lift his book up again and went back to his reading. Peace and quiet had finally settled on the study, and Sombra took advantage of it to peruse this particular tome's wealth of knowledge. He would do this for some time, the silence only broken by the papery rustle of a page being turned by flickers of his dark magic. Things only changed when the mare woke up. Sombra couldn't tell how much time had passed, but it'd been long enough for him to get far enough into the book. The king glanced up, red eyes alighting upon the faint glistening of tears in her eyes and a wetness on her cheeks. He'd been too absorbed in learning what he could that if she'd been making noises or crying in her sleep.. he hadn't noticed. The sight left him feeling a little awkward, torn between offering some sort of half hearted comfort or saying nothing.
  5. Princess Luna couldn't know about what little sadness she'd evoked within the filly, but she didn't intend to lecture her- all that Luna wanted was that this filly, and every other foal, could be safe. They may not see the forest through the knowledgeable eyes of adults, nor pick up on how truly dangerous it could be, but they could be informed, to have some healthy wariness instilled in them so that they could avoid being lost. The alicorn saw how the filly scooted closer, listening avidly to her story. Her teal eyes flicked down to her own forelegs, feeling the pony patting one of them to comfort her. A small smile rose to Luna's muzzle and she dipped her head. "This is a lesson that I am still trying to learn, and I'm grateful for the reminder," she gently replied. The twitches at the corners of the filly's mouth caught Luna's attention, and she puzzled over it. The filly hadn't properly smiled at her thus far, that she recalled.. Was there something wrong? The moonbringer didn't dare try to ask about it yet, just in case the filly was self conscious. Instead, she chose to ask a different question. "Since I have arrived here, I never bothered to ask for your name. You must already know mine.. What is your name?" The newspapers that had been developed over the more recent years before her return were responsible for that. The existence of it was a little irksome because of what ponies chose to publish, from their general questions and scrutiny, to rather invasive reports from their own small fleet of spies. Her own sister's love of sweets being outed to the public so rudely had left Luna ruffled for quite a while; she didn't want to imagine anything that the newspapers have claimed or reported about herself- it was why Luna chose to be so secretive, to keep out of the public eye's scrutiny. She'd had enough of the ponies a thousand years ago whispering among themselves about her strangeness, she didn't want to see it scrawled out in papers today. Luna softly cleared her throat. She wasn't sure what else to do, except to talk to this filly and perhaps walk her home before it was time for the night to rise. Her parents should surely be getting worried..
  6. Getting struck by Raven's spell hadn't hurt too much. It was nothing compared to what he'd endured, and by his movements it was easy to tell that it didn't bother him at all. Sombra strode back over to the seat he'd picked out for himself and sat down, his intense red eyes returning to Raven and studying how much casting that spell had affected her. It appeared to have taken a lot out of her, and he could guess the reason why. "You shouldn't overcharge a spell. If you keep that up, you'll eventually burn yourself out. Where will your magic be, then?" he queried, arching a black eyebrow. His words would've been harsh if his tone was not- calm and even. "No, it didn't hurt me. You need not worry about me." He fell silent and leaned back, his forelegs stretched out across the armrests and his hooves curled over the front edges. Anything he sat in that was comfortable like this, he sat in as if it were a throne, arrogant posture and all. "I think your issue is that your magic lacks the proper focus a whole horn offers. What I can propose is this, if healing magic will no longer be effective on an old wound: why don't we craft something that will fit over your horn and help you focus it better?" Perhaps he was looking at this all wrong, proposing fixes to a problem that Raven might not want to fix, but to only work around. But he couldn't know her mind, or what she would want, how she wished to go about this. The only other option Sombra could think of was to try and help Raven figure out the right amount of magic to put behind a spell so that she didn't end up hurting herself, or burning out. Her emotions, too, were probably interfering with what she wanted most and could not yet achieve as quickly as she wanted. There were a few different factors here that they would have to work on. Until then.. Sombra let the silence settle and picked up the book he'd barely begun to read and cracked it back open, his usually scowling face thoughtful. "I will keep that in mind."
  7. King Sombra glanced around the room and found an empty enough space near the middle to stand in, rather by the chair he'd just been occupying and the very destructible books. The stallion squared his shoulders and lifted his head, looking boldly at Raven as if daring her to hit him. "Of course I'm ready. There isn't anything you can do that can hurt me more than I've already felt in the past. Do it," he challenged her, not so subtly trying to spur her on. He knew she had a gentle heart, and those like her wouldn't hurt anypony unless pushed hard enough. Not that he was pushing particularly hard, but he was attempting to encourage her in a way he knew worked best when it came to resistant ponies. Sombra watched the mare summon her magic with interest, making a few notes how she planted her hooves to hold herself steady. His eyes shifted from her expression to the glowing cracks of her horn, not with concern, but with a thoughtful expression on his face. If she couldn't channel her magic correctly because it also came out from another part of her horn, then maybe.. He wasn't given a chance to finish his thought when the mare cast her spell. He was knocked off of his hooves and onto his back with a heavy thump, thrown by the magic. It may not have stunned him, but it was.. one way to deal with an opponent, if she couldn't manage to properly perform the spell she intended. It'd give her and whoever she intended to protect a few minutes to get away. Although, if he were a normal pony and not an umbrum, it might've had more of an effect. At this point, Sombra couldn't tell- but it was something. A start. Sombra grunted and rolled, pulling his legs close to his body so that he could properly get back onto his hooves. "I think I might know something that may help," Sombra stated and took a moment to give himself a little shake and search for his earlier train of thought. "The spell wasn't too bad, either. I think it could work against a regular pony, whether you successfully stun them or not."
  8. In the silence that followed her question, Luna picked up the expression on the filly's face and knew that she seemed to be giving her answer some serious thought. It wasn't something she often saw in foals and young ponies; sometimes, but not often. Young ponies were likely to blurt out their answers in excitement. The princess allowed the filly her time, and she used that time to glance up and around at the forest to ensure there was nothing lurking in the heavy shade. Thus far, it was safe. It was still relatively close to the forest's edge where most of its denizens didn't dare venture. She could relax a little more. Luna returned her teal gaze to the filly, giving the little pony her attention once more to hear her answer. "The forest's edge is.. preferable, but the Everfree is unpredictable. You could be safe one minute, and in danger the next. It is always difficult to tell when danger will fall, and you, especially, are vulnerable." Luna attempted to be gentle with her warnings. She didn't want to legitimately scare the filly to the point that she had nightmares or anything of the sort. The very thought brought her a small pang of guilt. Still, she was touched by the way the filly spoke of the night. With adult ponies, Luna felt that they said as much only to get into her good graces, to fawn over her for being a princess and Celestia's sister, or for other reasons Luna didn't dare think about. But children, they were genuine and honest with what they expressed. The moonbringer knew they were just as capable of lies, but.. not quite so often and hardly ever to be as malicious. She dipped her head to the foal with a small, grateful nod. "I am glad you feel that way, and so too about the Everfree Forest. To look past its dangers to its wonders is an admirable thing. Shall I tell you something? I once knew this forest like the back of my hoof over a thousand years ago. I knew the animals, and I knew much of the forest paths. I explored it many a time with a manticore whose name was Melvin. He was one of my friends. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the Everfree might have changed since I last knew it. I initially came here so that I might get to know it again, rather than spend most of my time in the castle again."
  9. Luna's head was tilted, peering around the trunk of a tree. The filly had been playing her instrument the way the earth ponies did, which wasn't entirely unusual for them, but it was for a unicorn to some extent. Some part of her didn't dare try to break the little pony's concentration, let alone the flow of the music, and even once the song was finished, she didn't interfere. Perhaps because she didn't want to scare the foal. The alicorn became aware that the filly's eyes had finally found her among the dark forest trees, a strange apparition with her starry mane that now fell in still waves down one side of her neck; the movement would've been too much of a detriment to her desire to remain hidden, although soft breezes made the hair lift floatily and slowly drift back down into place. She only stirred in her place in the edge of the clearing when the filly scrambled to her hooves just to bow to her. Something about ponies bowing to her bothered her, and Luna couldn't name a single reason why: if she was undeserving of that respect, if it reminded her of her thought process when she'd taken the mantle of Nightmare Moon, or if she'd seen it too often from those rare few ponies who fawned over her rather than treating her like a pony too. Luna blinked, realizing the filly was staring at her. "You need not bow. Forgive me, I did not mean to intrude, but this forest is far too dangerous for a filly. You should return to civilization, where it is safe. These woods, they are not kind." Her voice was soft, as if she was nothing more than an apparition come to warn a pony of danger. She could almost appear as such, if not for the fact that she was visibly a solid, physical being. The princess finally chose to step out from behind the tree where she'd been standing, half hidden, to seat herself on the leaf littered forest floor. "Why have you come here?" She queried. If there was any chance she could warn this pony away from the Everfree Forest to keep her safe, she would; one could never know when they'd run across a pack of timberwolves, or one of the cragodiles that could so easily make themselves look like a harmless lump of rocks. Of course, Luna didn't think a cragodile would be this close to the Everfree's edge, but the point remained.
  10. Sombra lowered the book he'd barely begun to read, a small frown on his face. It wasn't annoyance, nor could it even come close to be considered concerned. It was just -- a frown. Raven was having difficulty with her math, but how math and magic even mixed was beyond him. It must've been some sort of new development, or a new take on magic that these modern ponies have developed over the years. Whatever it was, Sombra felt certain he might've found part of Raven's problem: she was overthinking it far too much. He grunted, shifting to straighten up in his seat a little and let the book he had open rest on the thighs of his rear legs. "I imagine if I was trying to figure out a stunning spell, I would want to incapacitate my target. Whether it be to knock them out, to disrupt or overwhelm their senses.. There are a variety of ways you can go about stunning a pony. Perhaps we should return to an older way of performing magic than these.. written formulas. It might help you far better; you could be overthinking it." Sombra pointed out with a small frown. If Raven was going to perform magic, there had to be a way she could work around her disability.. or use it to her advantage somehow. Thinking that he wouldn't be able to get directly into reading as he'd intended, Sombra set the books aside on a small table next to his seat with a soft sigh and pulled himself back to his hooves. "I can't say how well your spells will work on me, but perhaps I'll work well as a test. Try to stun me. Think about how you want to do it, what you understand about stunning a pony, and put that intent behind your magic. You know how it runs through your horn now, despite the crack, do you not?"
  11. Princess Luna could pick out the various colorful ponies who were still wandering Ponyville's streets at this hour. It wasn't late yet, but she could sense the beginning of the shift from day to night. Later, by the time the sun touched the horizon, she would have to raise the moon, but that was still some hours off. It wasn't something for her to worry about yet. She could let her mind drift across her thoughts of Equestria itself and bits and pieces of old memories while she soared ever lower over the yellow thatched-roofing of Ponyville's quaint houses. It would be impossible, from this distance, to mistake her as a particularly large and unusual pegasus, but she swept by quickly enough that most ponies likely didn't get a good look at her if they bothered to look up at all. Pegasi flying overhead was such a common sight that most ponies weren't given to watching them, let alone sparing a glance. Luna relied on this to avoid their notice for as long as she could so that she could avoid playing the role of social diarch as her sister often did. Celestia might enjoy socializing with ponies, and do so with ease, but Luna did not. It was on her path over Ponyville, watching its residents as she flew over, seeking a bare enough street, that she noticed a filly heading towards the outskirts of Ponyville alone, in the direction of the Everfree Forest. Even in her day, the Everfree had been dangerous, no matter her connection to the animals there. Why would a filly dare to head so close? Luna beat her wings, drawing herself up further above the buildings in order to watch the filly's path with a watchful eye, a small frown playing around her muzzle that most would never see. It wouldn't be until the filly was almost out of her view that Luna finally made herself move, soaring after the little pony. The moonbringer lost sight of them, but it didn't take her long to find them again by the sound of music that filtered through the trees over the natural forest ambience. Luna finally landed and slowly closed her wings at her sides as she stepped ever so quietly closer, her head cocked. Why would a filly decide to come to the Everfree Forest of all places to practice music? It was a dangerous place, and it was not in Luna's nature to simply leave her be, not when the pony might need protection.
  12. It was always a rare chance to spread her wings, and escape the chains of her lofty position. The pristine Canterlot castle was steadily shrinking behind her, and overhead, the sky was slowly developing an orange tint to the blue as the sun slowly began its descent towards the horizon. Being awake before the sunset was the earliest time she'd risen thus far, and although she enjoyed her sleep, a period in which she could peacefully rest, her restlessness had been growing lately. It'd been far too long since she'd gotten out of the castle, and not for an event that required the presence of a princess to oversee it. It was about time that she tried to pursue something that she missed: the freedom she once had those thousand years ago before her fall. When she could freely explore the Everfree Forest with Melvin, and spend what time she could wrangle out of her sister.. before she'd begun to get shrugged off more and more in favor of ponies. Her blue wings were spread wide, beating every so often to keep her aloft as she flew towards a location that was semi-familiar to her. It wasn't terribly far from Canterlot, thankfully, but even still she needed the exercise. Being cooped up in a castle most of the time didn't often give her the chance or the reason to fly, and flying was one of her favorite things to do. It was.. freeing. All of her worries and stress were simply swept away. Princess Luna wasn't sure what she would do once she reached Ponyville, or if she would simply fly past it in favor of the Everfree Forest. Hopefully, around this time, there wouldn't be as many ponies on the streets with the onset of the setting sun; she didn't want to make a scene by suddenly dropping in. Even now, Luna knew how much the ponies favored the princesses for the crowns they wore and the protection they offered, almost to the point that a glimpse of them in public was enough to excite the citizens. Luna didn't want to get swarmed by them when she still had something of an aversion to crowds and the noise they brought with them. Her starry mane fluttered, streaming back from her head as she descended towards the steadily approaching country town, and the closer she got to it, the more she began to pick out more notable buildings outside of the tall Town Hall as her teal eyes searched for a quiet, empty street to touch down in. She wasn't sure if it would truly be empty, or who she might run into on this little, spur-of-the-moment visit to break outside of her repetitive schedule.
  13. Sombra made a soft noise in his throat and nodded, acknowledging her acceptance. He didn't know why he felt comfortable enough to actually want to talk to her, much less tell a 'story' that was just a bit of the Crystal Empire's history, but he did. Perhaps she just made it so easy to, or her entire lack of fear of him. She didn't treat him like he was different, that he was some other; she just treated him like a pony and it was something he'd been missing for a long time. The king chose to let the mare eat in peace, making a plan to find a chance to tell her the story later- and he thought of it as a story because he, himself, loved stories, although it was a detail he'd never let anypony know. Not unless they'd entirely earned his trust and with very good reason. He grunted softly. "How poor of them to never make magic learning more available for others less fortunate," he muttered. Sombra rose once she'd finished and put her dishes in the sink with a soft clatter, and he shadowed her to her study. Once they were inside, he made a small note of her decision to lock the door and looked away once she'd expressed her reasoning for it, turning his focus onto the shelves of book with a glint of greed in his red, inequine eyes. The stallion approached the shelves and perused the titles written on the spines, his dark magic plucking out those that caught his attention. It was only after he'd restrained himself to a few that he picked a place to sit down and reclined, cracking open the first book. Yet, rather than leaping straight into reading, he glanced over the top of it towards Raven's scrawling with an interest. He couldn't quite read what she was writing from here, but the way in which she wrote was confident. Raven knew what she was doing, he could tell that much. The umbrum resolved to peek at her notes sometime, if she let him, just to see what it all was. "I appreciate it. You've got quite a wealth of information in here, and I could spend quite a lot of my time just trying to read it all. Especially now that I have the time to." Ruling the empire hadn't exactly left him with enough free leisure time. "Do not be afraid to ask your questions, and request my insight. It is the least I can do, and an equal exchange."
  14. The time in which Chesster was gone allowed Sombra to stew in his thoughts and emotions, and idly brush over his sideburns with a foreknee to give himself something else to focus on: his appearance. The jousting tournament had left him a little ruffled, and although there was no brush on hoof that he could use to properly groom his mane with so that he might help himself achieve what was considered calm for him, he made do. Something of his dark mood still lingered when Chesster finally returned and Sombra rose to his hooves, choosing to exit the tent before the crystal pony's lackeys began to dismantle it at his command. He was back out in the open sun again, exposed to any prying eyes, but he kept that awareness to the back of his mind as he regarded Chesster, trying to find some way to broach the conversation that he wanted to have with him. There was not yet an opportunity, made clear by Chesster himself, and that was something Sombra could respect for now. He didn't want to talk about a thing in the open, especially when it might end up being personal. The shadow king merely grunted, biding his time and moving to fall into step in Chesster's small procession on the way out of town. The faces of some watchful crystal ponies passed by his periphery, and on occasion he chose to glance over at them and subtly wrinkle his snout in distaste. Despite how bold some of them were being, none of them had the courage to attempt any attack against him, proving to him that they were still cowards. It was both good and bad that none of them bothered: they would not have to deal with the trouble, and he wouldn't have anypony to properly lash out at to expel some of what he felt. Sombra held onto his silence until they'd finally made their way out of town, further out onto the well-worn dirt road speckled with the many faint hoof prints of ponies who'd used this road before them. "I want to talk," Sombra stated, moving up to Chesster's side and looking over at the stallion. "It's about our earlier conversation." He stepped ahead, attempting to get in front of Chesster so that he might talk to the stallion face to face; this didn't feel like a conversation that could be passed back and forth from the side. It wasn't like him to want to express anything so freely, but this was a special case. This was a pony who seemed to freely support him, but it wasn't like the mare, Raven, who he'd met in Canterlot. It was a pony who'd supported his rule and his cruelty. "Let me make one thing clear: I will not be used, not by you, not by any pony. I will accept your support, but I am not your means to an end. I will never go back to the empire, not even for power. I've learned my lesson there after what's happened, and I won't put up with it any more. Now, I know quite well what a loss of purpose feels like, and should I find something for myself again, it will be mine and not because I was put there. Follow me to it, if you wish, but do not seek to control me." He'd leaned his head forward, coming close to getting into Chesster's face, but he was restraining himself from posturing at the stallion too much to express his seriousness.
  15. His ears flattened back against his mane. The answer left him with mixed feelings, and it was his anger that was the more visible emotion in the lines of his body and a faint glow to his monstrous eyes. He was aware that Chesster had admitted it sounded selfish, and with that he could agree. It almost sounded as if Chesster wanted to bring him back into power for his own interests. To use him. The mere thought of being used again by another being, and a pony no less, left Sombra feeling sick to his stomach. Although it was mostly what he was focused on, Sombra could begrudgingly understand that desire to rediscover a purpose again. Ever since he'd taken that last look at the Crystal Empire and trudged south, he'd felt lost. There was nothing else to his life if he couldn't fulfill the purpose he'd been given by the umbrum- specifically, the one within the crystal who he'd spoken with. They slipped him out of the prison through that sole window so that he would be their champion, so that he would open the door and free them. Unfortunately, it was something he never managed to do despite finally finding that door deep under the empire. Sombra hadn't had the courage to before the royal sisters finally came for him. Locked in place by his dilemma, the king could only grunt as Chesster picked the moment to go and collect his winnings, and it would not be until after the pony had left the tent that Sombra let his rear legs crumple beneath him. Power. Sombra couldn't deny that some part of him still lusted for power, had found the feeling of it, of control, intoxicating. Yet, if he should ever return to a throne.. he would never allow anypony to use him again. It would be for his own reasons, and he would have a choice in the matter. The shadow king exhaled heavily and looked to his hooves, trying to work through it and work himself back to some manner of calm. Once Chesster returned and he had the chance to, Sombra was going to have a talk with the crystal pony about this.
  16. Sombra never liked not having all of the information, and Chesster's vague explanation of his reasoning left much to be desired. He wouldn't have the time to draw them out of Chesster, however. Sombra was caught off guard by the stallion's expressed intent to help him regain power. Regain power? Why would he? The Crystal Empire had been nothing but a source of misery to him, and his rise to power wasn't quite his own decision. It was something that was already made for him before his first memory of anything, and by many of the reasons that'd come with that turning point in his life. There'd been no path left to him.. except tyranny. Sure, he acted on it and those years of stifled anger and building hatred, feelings that he still possessed, but he'd ultimately been -- miserable. He'd become the very thing of his own nightmares. Sombra dragged himself out of those memories, using Pierce's voice as an anchor. Some anger was already flickering in his chest and it took him a moment to investigate why. It was mostly based off of suspicion and wariness, but nonetheless the anger was there. The tall stallion exhaled heavily through his nose, nostrils flaring, and his red eyes followed Pierce while the other stallion busied himself. He'd only vaguely noticed Chesster's eyes flitting towards his flanks moment ago, and he knew what sort of questions might come in time about their bareness. "A manor? It sounds pleasant. I wouldn't mind joining you. Perhaps it would allow me a more permanent shelter than the places I've stayed in before," Sombra addressed first, his voice a little stiff in his reply as he sought a way to question Chesster. "Perhaps, I could get to learn more about you, too, while we travel there and share space." He idly took a step forward, his head tilted. "Like why you want to see something like me in power again."
  17. Sombra responded to her question with a nod of his head. It was one of the emotions that they did, indeed, feed off of. "While you eat your lunch, perhaps I can tell you another story as I mentioned last night. If you're interested," he left the offer open for her acceptance, or rejection, but he could tell that they might end up moving on to her study soon. There was always time, he felt, for him to tell her an important point in the history of the Crystal Empire. Near the beginning of it and the reason why the Crystal Faire even existed in the first place. The king grunted softly and looked away from her while she ate, eying the kitchen with interest. "I'll be sure to let you know. You don't seem like you get much of a chance to get feedback when it comes to magic and spellwork. I'm sure it may be useful to you." Sombra was confident enough in his ability to feel like he wouldn't need such a thing, but he never knew. It was entirely possible that having another unicorn around like Raven would be useful for any discussions and problem solving. He rumbled softly to himself and allowed Raven to eat in peace, without staring at her or disturbing her further with talk. He was patient, but it was best this way so that they could get to the study much sooner; he was eager to peruse her archive of spellbooks.
  18. King Sombra didn't care so much about the attention that was on the pair of them as they left, although he did glance back at one point with his usual, faint scowl as if to catch one last glimpse of the fear on their faces for his own satisfaction, and noticed what Chesster had: they appeared to be following them. They were keeping their distance, but he didn't like their boldness. The umbrum snorted, the curved red of his horn briefly flickering with dark magic in a subtle threat. If they tried, they would not go unscathed. And he would have no trouble with hurting them. The tall grey stallion slipped into the tent after Chesster, past his two lackeys who moved to guard the entrance to the tent, and came to a halt in the empty space. Taking advantage of being out of the public eye, Sombra pulled the rest of the armor off him with some relief. He was entirely bare now, but it beat wearing that armor for a moment longer. Sombra investigated the large bruise on his chest as Chesster spoke up, and his head snapped up in surprise. Captain of the guard? "I never knew anypony would've followed my orders so willingly, let alone want to come looking for me. It is usually considered a smart idea to stay away." Sombra replied, his dark brow furrowing. "Why? What reason did you have for any of it?" Pierce. He wasn't sure if he knew that name, if it had the same strangely vague familiarity as Chesster's coloration did. Hrm. They likely wouldn't have long to stand here and discuss this particular matter, much less anything else. In the time they had, he tried to detract from some of his own confusion by focusing his magic on where he'd hid his cape, in some rental lockers set up by the faire for ponies who didn't want to lose any of their belongings. It wasn't terribly far away, and it was with an ease that Sombra summoned it, the cape appearing in a flash and swept onto his back within moments. He fastened it at his neck, frowning to himself and at Pierce. "I suppose another important question I want to ask is: what do you intend to do?"
  19. A low and thoughtful sounding rumble rolled up out of Sombra's throat. Thus far, she hadn't been afraid of him.. at least, not since their initial meeting as far as he knew. "Fear," Sombra replied, straight to the point. "And despair. It is how the umbrum sustain themselves, as well as myself. Food is.. nice, and may help a little, but I get most of what I need from those emotions. I suppose it is, to some extent, like these.. changelings I've heard mention of, yet they feed on something different." Love. Sombra wanted to scoff at the mere thought of the emotion, the concept. Anything like it he might've felt once for Hope could've easily been mistaken for love, or some sort of desperation not to be alone among so many unfriendly ponies. "I think I'd like to join you in this study of yours. I'd like to see these books, and spend some of my time reading to see what I can learn." And maybe even dare to practice some spells with Raven, if he could. He was feeling much more comfortable around this accepting mare the longer he spent around her, and her nature put him more at ease. It would normally be a little alarming, but there was nothing about her that appeared malicious, calculating or even suspicious in the least. Sombra watched her curiously and tilted his head. Alone tomorrow? He didn't mind the thought of having the house to himself, but he had to remind himself it wasn't his house and that there was another pony here. Raven's uncle. He hadn't yet met the stallion yet, or seen him. "I wouldn't mind having a little time to myself, if that is what you need to do."
  20. The king made a note of the areions' diet. What he'd use the information for, he wasn't sure; it was just another interesting tidbit to file away. "I wonder why that is. Are you not as much a pony as the others?" he queried, and responded to Midnight's chuckle with a small shrug. No, they wouldn't be mortal enemies, but Midnight appeared to have decided to keep him company for a very obvious reason: he was dangerous, and Midnight wanted to keep an eye on him. Sombra took more of a drink from his own cider, relaxing back into his chair again with a rear leg almost crossed over the other. "Bold of you to assume you could even get away from me quick enough to alert them," he commented with a lift of an eyebrow. The tone in which he said it suggested that he was only joking, but his expression remained as serious as ever, although remarkably less sour with the cider. "Regardless, I doubt I'll become a.. threat unless given a good enough reason to be. It entirely depends on other ponies, and the princesses treatment of me should they ever discover I'm alive." In hindsight, Sombra considered that Midnight could easily report this meeting to his higher-ups, and the royal sisters, anyway, regardless of whatever amiable agreement they had here. Ponies could be notorious liars, and traitors, especially when doing anything of the sort would benefit them. They were, in a sense, no different from him. Yet, he was somehow the threat, somehow worse. He shrugged to himself. "What would we be, then? And what would you intend with me?"
  21. King Sombra couldn't be fooled by the guarded expression settling onto Chesster's face like a mask. It was something he recognized in himself quite well. If he left himself open, he was vulnerable, and anypony with as sharp an eye as Chesster seemed to have would be able to read him too easily for his liking, and he couldn't have that. Sombra could appreciate what he'd managed to see in that grin moments ago; it showed him the crystal pony had more personality than he let on. It was with an apathy that Sombra had to listen to the overenthusiastic announcer speak to the crowd, and he allowed the unknown stallion's voice drift through one ear and out the other without ever bothering to take in any of it. It was typical noise: dates, plans, and other such things that he didn't care about. Spying the bow, the shadow king merely bent his head Chesster's way; he wasn't about to bow to anypony. Not even for sportsmanship. He shifted on his hooves and used his magic to finally slip his helm off, allowing his long black mane to tumble free down his neck and onto his shoulders while he waited, and he didn't have to wait long for Chesster to address him. He grunted. "That you do." Sombra turned and followed after Chesster, finding a lance rack to idly place his helm onto without any care for putting it back in the right location. The rest of the armor would come off soon, once he retrieved his cape from where he'd stored it and put it on in a place where there were no prying eyes; he still held some of that old self-consciousness about his bare flanks, and some small, coltish part of him that still remained somewhere down inside still desired to fit in. It was an impossible task, especially now. The sabatons were left behind on the way too, idly discarded.
  22. If there were eyes for his to meet, Sombra would've held Chesster's gaze evenly- as it was, he had to settle for the faceplate and covered eyes of Chesster's helmet as they charged down the tilt yard again, his own hooves pounding the dirt. His eagerness to see this through so that he might declare victory and the anticipation of that possibility almost dragged the time, but when they met, time seemed to leap forward and Sombra found himself landing heavily. It'd happened so fast that all he could remember was a jerk, the land disappearing under his hooves and the world tilting alarmingly in flashes. He became aware of the noise from the crowd again and he shifted with a soft grunt, rolling to his hooves and pushing himself up with some difficulty. His chest still ached and he was a little stunned, but movement was something he still managed. The glint of the bright sunlight off of the dull grey metal of a helmet caught his eye on the way to the end of the tilt-yard he was intended to go, before he'd been knocked off his hooves so effortlessly. It caused him to come to a stop and slowly look back the way he'd come, where Chesster now stood. The victor. A small, hard little ball of bitter disappointment squeezed his heart but he couldn't be terribly sullen about it, not when he could recognize Chesster as the more experienced jouster. It was reasonable; after all, he'd just started and had a little practice. Seeing Chesster's face at last, too, was a little jarring after having nothing but a blank pony's helmet to look at, and there was something about the red of the stallion's mane that was -- familiar somehow. Ponies hardly ever had any red coloration, save for a rare few that he'd seen, and definitely not in crystal ponies. At least as far as he was capable of remembering. It was known to him that Chesster was a crystal pony, who seemed as annoyed as Sombra was with the empire's other denizens. He felt there was some importance behind that little flicker of familiarity, but it escaped him. Perhaps a glimpse or two of Chesster when they both still lived there. Seeing the crystal pony standing there with such emotion on his face elicited a soft scoff from the king, who finally turned away and retreated to his own end of the tilt yard. He removed his lance, there, tossing it aside and facing Chesster across the way. As much as he wanted to simply leave immediately to get away from the noise and the scents that were slowly becoming sickening to his nose, to avoid the shame of losing to a crystal pony in front of the others who knew him for what he was, Sombra forced himself to stand his ground and see how the tournament would end. An announcement, and the prize money being handed out to the obvious victor, he would guess.
  23. In the ensuing silence, Sombra's mind drifted again to the matter of magic, and Raven. To avoid looking like he was staring at her while his thoughts were elsewhere, the stallion shifted his gaze back to the backyard and the flowers in it. There were many colorful flowers that were unlike what grew in the Empire, and to an extent they were pleasing to look at. His attention was drawn away from his thoughts when Raven's voice broke into his reverie. The king blinked. It didn't seem as if -- well, perhaps it was getting close to the time that ponies normally ate lunch. It wasn't as if he had much of a sense of time in order to tell. Sombra pushed himself to his hooves and followed after the mare again, despite the fact that he didn't need to eat and he usually wasn't hungry. Not for normal pony food, anyway, but fear. What his species fed on. His pace slowed once they were inside, strolling through the hallways full of framed pictures of Raven and other ponies. Two ponies, in particular, that Sombra could guess from their colorations and certain similar attributes that they were Raven's parents. Were they dead, he wondered, or had they simply disappeared? If Raven had told him, he couldn't remember that particular detail. Sombra pulled his eyes away from the pictures, the depictions of happy ponies and a normal family life that he'd never had, to catch up to his colorful host and join her in the kitchen. "No, nothing in particular. I have no real need to eat, so don't feel as if you're obligated to keep feeding me," Sombra replied a little awkwardly, lifting a shoulder in a shrug. After seeing those pictures, and the portraits, he wasn't sure how to feel. The tall stallion moved to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair to seat himself in, sweeping the fur-lined end of his cape out of the way with a hoof as he sat down. There was a chance that it would bare some of his bare flank, but he tried not to think about it. "Maybe there is something you would like to do after lunch. Studying magic and the advances that must've been made over the course of a thousand years certainly interests me."
  24. dragonofruin


    From the album: Mal's art!

    A gift art I decided to do for Alivda of their OC, Raven~.
  25. The giggle that he'd managed to elicit from the mare puzzled him, and Sombra had to take a minute to mull through the conversation to see if he couldn't find what Raven found so funny. So far as he could tell, there was nothing. Then again, he never had much of a sense of humor. His ear twitched. New friend? While Raven didn't sound like she was entirely serious about the statement, Sombra wasn't sure what to think of it. Friendship only left him wary now. It'd left him vulnerable to betrayal in the past, and Hope had been so quick to do so, to simply drop him. Yet, Raven wasn't a crystal pony. It was something to think about later. For now, he focused himself again on the present, paying attention to what Raven had to say about spell theory and her failures with a stun bolt. The solution could almost be simple, if he didn't know actually performing a spell was difficult in itself. He chose to say something along the vein of it anyway; sometimes it took looking at a problem from a different angle to find the proper solution. "It sounds like finding the perfect balance of magic is what is required. You should try to work up from the bottom until you discover the required amount of magic that will help the spell work," Sombra put in after a moment's consideration. "Do not be so quick or eager to try to perform the spell, even if you already understand how to do it. Have patience. You'll be able to cast them." The king paused, head cocked. "If it's part of your talent, perhaps you could attempt such a thing.. if your stunning spell doesn't work."
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