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Shadows in Canterlot [Semi-open]

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After what he'd gotten himself into, the former tyrant felt it would be imperative that he finally dare to explore Canterlot. The world was always quietest once the sun fell beyond the horizon, and the moon was bright overhead, when most ponies were long since in the comfort of their beds, their dreams.

 

Canterlot, as Sombra had learned, was Equestria's capital city, a development that had happened some time after he'd been banished beneath the ice of the Frozen North. Although whether it happened during Princess Luna's tantrum, or after, the history books he'd found on Equestria never mentioned. It was an interesting tidbit to wonder about. The city was currently quiet with very few ponies left on the street at this dark hour. The golden glow of the streetlamps kept the street themselves lit well enough to see by, but they also created many heavy shadows in the spaces between buildings and behind whatever objects sat on sidewalks and what carts were left sitting on the side of the roads.

 

Coming here at all had been a great risk, and staying to explore it was even worse. Yet, despite the danger of the royal sisters discovering that he was back, that he was alive, Sombra remained, walking through the capital's streets. He kept to the shadows when necessary, and skirted the edges of the streetlamps' light so that those few who were still on the streets couldn't get a good look at him. Couldn't see the curved red horn or wicked red eyes and inequine slit pupils and know that a monster walked among them. Thus far, none seemed to pay any attention to him, and for that Sombra was glad. It allowed him to turn his focus onto why he was here in Equestria at all: exploring what changes a thousand years had brought, and what modern wonders this grand city held. Ponies seemed to hold Canterlot in high esteem, and he could see why. He could also see it was because it was where many of Equestria's rich, and the nobility, lived just by what he could see peeking into dark shop windows at the wares on display. Fancy place. Sombra couldn't decide whether he found it appealing or if he was sickened by the extravagance.

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The night was still young as many of the guards could be seen turning in for the evening, Twas now the time of the areion guards to begin their watch over the sleepy capital city. Midnight Oil dawned his Lunar Guard armor. With a deep breath, he would look up to the moon. "I will make you proud my princess," he said as he exited the barracks, putting his helmet on. Tonight, he was in command of the small band of bat ponies that made up the watch, and tonight was going to go off without incident.

 

As Midnight made his rounds, he had noticed somepony in the distance. They where acting quite suspicious, keeping to the shadows and avoiding the few other ponies that still roamed the streets of Canterlot. Midnight thought to himself two could play at this game. The bat pony would silently fly to a nearby malfunctioning streetlamp and hung upside down. His purple slit pupil eyes would locked on this mystery figure as he smiled from only a few feet away, fangs exposed as he waited for this mystery pony's next move. 

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His late night lurking in Canterlot's streets didn't account for ponies with sharp night vision like himself. He knew that mortal ponies had difficulty seeing in the dark without the help of candlelight, or in the case of this city, streetlamps, so he felt there was no need to make a real effort to conceal himself. He could readily blend in with the shadows, if need be.

 

Sombra continued to roam freely, but as some time passed, his interest in the contents of the shops large display windows began to wane. There were many shops that displayed modern fashions, jewelry, furniture.. the list went on. There were very few bookstores, and while it disappointed him, it wasn't as if he'd be able to get into any of them so that he could find some more reading material, more information about Equestria. Did this city at least have a library of some sort?

 

His wandering thoughts were brought to a halt by movement, and Sombra paused mid-step to focus in the direction that he'd seen it. In the dark, a pair of purple eyes opened. Even from here Sombra could see the pupils were sharp, vertical slits like his own, and he could see the glint of fangs in the smiling creature's mouth. It, they, whoever they were, was hanging upside down and he couldn't figure out how exactly they were managing that with their tail. His head tilting, the tyrant took a few, slow steps in the creature's direction. Were they.. a pony? His eyes narrowed. With attributes like that, they -- couldn't be. His interest piqued.

 

"Who, and what, are you?" The silence was broken by the king's deep, rumbling voice. "I've never seen anything of your sort before. Tell me, I wish to know."

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Midnight would open his bat like wings and fly down from his perch. “I believe the same can be asked of you. It’s a bit early for nightmare night, don’t you think?”

 

He would take a few steps forward, his body now half in the light so his wings and armor could be seen. “I am one of the few areions in service to Her Magnificents, Princess Luna.” 

 

Midnight looked over the pony before him, taking mental note of his features as he awaited his response.

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It became easy to see that the creature he was talking to could fly. Wings were visible in their silhouette when they came down from the streetlamp, though the shape of them didn't seem to match a feathery pegasus's wings, and he got a better look at them when the creature came into the light. They were a pony.. or something of a pony. Black mane, grey coat, the eyes, teeth.

 

Color me intrigued, Sombra thought, dark eyebrows rising. The words Nightmare Night caught his attention and he had to stand there for a moment, searching his memory. He was fairly certain he saw some mention of it, a holiday in favor of Princess Luna's little alter ego, Nightmare Moon. It still brought him a dark sort of pleasure to know that one of the ever so angelic princesses had fallen, after they had banished him for what he'd done. The only pony who was left who'd never known any form of imprisonment beyond her crown was Princess Celestia herself, and he knew what to ask her should he ever have the misfortune of being found.

 

Speaking of the princesses, it seemed he'd run into somepony who was in Princess Luna's service. "I'm not here for any silly holiday, and I presume, neither are you." A little snark slipped into his voice, and was gone. "This is just my natural look. I would be greatly amused if you had a problem with it." A wide smile crossed the umbrum's muzzle, baring all those sharp, monstrous teeth of his to go along with his other, unusual attributes. The only thing the stallion was wearing was his signature cape, a rich red color that was lined in white fur. It was the only thing he could salvage of what was left, his armor had been completely shattered by the Heart's blast, and he was glad that it at least survived so that he might keep his bare flanks covered. Perhaps the only thing he wouldn't be showing this.. areion? Was that what this pony's species was called? "How is Princess Luna doing these days, might I ask?" It was as if he had no care about being discovered, but it was just a little question he thought to toss the armored bat pony to throw him off.

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Midnight raised on eyebrow as the pony before him spoke before him. He sighed deeply and shook his head. “Nopony in their right mind would willingly go around looking like the demented former ruler of the Crystal Empire without reason. The sideburns are a nice touch though,” as he looked Sombra over. His scrutiny conforming what he had feared. This was indeed the re-enactment of the Shadow King.

 

Midnight would immediately take a defensive stance upon hearing him ask about his princess. “Princess Luna is doing well and currently governing the night. Perhaps you would visit her and pay your respects? I’m sure she’d be most interested to hear that Sombra has returned...and to our capital none the less.....”

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A dark eyebrow rose. Demented former ruler? It wasn't so much the 'former ruler' part that bothered him than it was the demented part. The tyrant scoffed, and soon barked out a laugh in response to the comment on his sideburns. If he only knew Midnight considered his appearance to be a re-enactment, he would've had something to say to that.

 

"I wouldn't want to bother such a busy mare for a bit of idle chatter. So, you know who I am.." It was less of a question and more of a statement, and said as Sombra took a few, measured steps towards the grey areion, his toothy smile fading to a cocky smirk on his muzzle. "I find it interesting that you would call me demented. Is that really what you think of me?" A soft sigh escaped him, as if the umbrum found this fact a disappointing one. Demented. "I've been called many things, among monster, demon, devil.. to be called demented is a new one. I hardly think I am mad for what I've done. I acted on my own choices, my own desires; I wasn't driven by madness, or some dark entity. Would you ponies think that mad, to act for your own reasons? Or must you have a princess to dictate your every move to be good little foals?"

 

Sombra began to circle the areion while he walked, studying the other stallion like he was sizing him up. Although he'd never directly introduced himself or stated that Midnight's assumptions about him were, mostly, correct, he made it clear from what he was saying that he was, indeed, King Sombra himself. Tonight, this meeting with this bat-winged pony, this areion, had put him in a mood to toy with the pony. If it was possible.. although it was certainly a dangerous thing to do. If this pony really did have connections to Princess Luna, they could fly off whenever they wanted to alert the moonbringer to his presence. Now that would be a bit of a disaster, but Sombra felt he'd likely be gone before Princess Luna could come for him.

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With a few flaps of his wings, Midnight would hover up above Sombra, though showed no sign of fleeing. “Demented was just one of the...kinder words in your profile. If I remember correctly it went something along the the line of ‘A twisted, demented, tyrant with a heart back as night.’ Sound familiar?”

 

The bat pony would smirk at Sombra. “To answer your other question, my loyalty to the Princess of the Night is second to none, and even she believes that past mistakes can be atoned for...now then, what brings you to Canterlot? Nothing malicious that will require alicorn intervention I hope.... if you plan on behaving, perhaps I can help expedite your time here, and Princess Luna will only receive a small note in her morning report.”

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The circling monster paused to look up at the hovering pony, his red eyes flicking to watch the way Midnight's unusual wings moved. They weren't like a pegasus's, not at all, and it wasn't because they lacked feathers. How did such a pony come to be? Did they always exist, or were they the result of something, some sort of magic? These questions were filed away as Sombra came striding back around to stand before the flying bat pony and considered him, a frown on his face.

 

"Now that is going too far. I'm almost offended." King Sombra snorted. A heart as black as night? To some extent, perhaps they weren't wrong, but for them to make him out to be so.. heartless just showed him how many assumptions they made about him and about his very nature. Did he enjoy conquering the empire and finally putting the crystal ponies in their place? Well, yes, he did, but there were other reasons involved in his decision. He'd had no choice to after he found the truth, because.. after what he discovered what he truly was, how could he go back to living the life he'd had? The crystal ponies would have been ruthless in their treatment of him, once his true nature had been revealed. They -- deserved what they got.

 

A faint scowl had settled over his features and he grunted, a slight shrug following it. "I suppose 'tyrant with a heart as black as night' does have a nice ring to it regardless." Sombra fought the urge to roll his eyes and focused on the pony's smirk. "I came to do a little exploring, a little hunting.. for knowledge. That is all. How rude of you to assume such foul things about little ol' me." Sombra lifted an eyebrow. "Would you really be such a, as they say, tattle-tale? Running off to your dear princess at the first sign of an issue, or because a new bully on the playground gave you a mean look you didn't like? Is this what Equestria's protectors resort to?"

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The bat pony scowled at Sombra's attempt to provoke him. He would take a few deep breaths. "Not everything that the Lunar Guard dose involves the Princesses..." he would trail off. What was it this pony was after. Surely Sombra couldn't have come all this way and take this much effort just to check out a book about Equestrian History, could he? No, that couldn't have been the reason....there had to be an underlying motive...scouting the city for an attack....but with what forces....perhaps he was just overthinking this whole ordeal.

 

Midnight would land a few feet away from Sombra and glared at the umbra unicorn. "The Lunar Guard is proud and more then capable of defending Equestria from common threats," he barked. "However we still must follow orders, do things as the princesses wish...I'm sure as the former ruler of a vast frozen empire, you of all ponies would understand how things are done. By us having this little conversation, you have forced my hoof as it where." He was telling the former Umbra King the truth. His orders where to observe and report all threats to the city. "I know of a book store on the other side of the city that is open all night. If I take you there, will you leave this city? Perhaps you may even find something that you enjoy about Canterlot's night life...."

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"Does it not?" Sombra answered with a mixture of boredom and disbelief in his tone. Of course he didn't believe this pony. He'd seen enough, in both the Crystal Empire and Equestria, to know that ponies practically worshiped their princesses, put them on a pedestal, looked to them for guidance and.. hoof holding. The stallion scoffed and, for a moment, became a pony-shaped shadow that swept forward with a suddenness and he solidified again, standing inches from Midnight and leaning close, a growl to his voice. "I am not a common threat. Keep that in mind, pony. I am not one to be trifled with, nor should you underestimate me. It may cost you."

 

Sombra straightened, exhaling heavily through his nostrils and sought to pick back up the mischievous attitude he'd been employing.  "Without question? I'm appalled." The flicker of a threat in his eyes, his posture, was gone as quickly as it'd come. "What, pray tell, has forced your hoof beyond a little chat? My existence?" A weary sigh escaped him and he averted his eyes from the areion to curiously sweep their surroundings. "It is the Frozen North, and in it the Crystal Empire. The empire itself is not frozen, though it can still get quite cold despite its protection against the icy elements. Still, I'm not sure what it is you're implying." Sombra was, essentially, just being an asshole. Nitpicking Midnight's phrasing, threatening and toying with him.. it was all just for his own entertainment, to an extent. It covered up other things, other feelings, he had about the treatment he was getting.. although it wasn't unwarranted, not with the way he was simply tossing everything the pony said back into his face.

 

"You did call me a twisted, demented tyrant. What would such a creature know of being a ruler like your dear princesses?" King Sombra quietly snorted and dismissed it in favor of this mention of a bookstore. "Is there such a thing in this city? I'm curious, though I must ask if this bookstore is the only source of information in this city. A city I.. don't feel too inclined to leave so soon, not for so simple a bribe as what you're offering me. I know little about this night life you speak of, much less anything else.. Surely you can entertain a king for a little while without resorting to your threats."

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As the former King of Shadows lunged at him in shadow forum, it wild catch Midnight by surprise, though the bat pony stood his ground. “Believe me, your on the top five of threats, just behind that....wicked former Changeling Queen.”

 

Midnight would give Sombra a crooked smile when asked about his forced hood. “Well, seeing as you are on the Princesses’ list....your stuck with me till you do something requiring their intervention or you leave the city. I’m attempting to expedite the situation in a way that is the least inconvenient for all parties involved...”

 

Midnight couldn’t believe the words that had just come out of his muzzle, though his orders where clear, not to let Sombra out of his sight. The bat pony would begin walking and motion for him to follow.

 

”We’re heading to ‘Old’ Canterlot. That’s where the aforementioned bookstore is-where the nightlife is. I’m sure you’ll love it there....I certainly do.”

 

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King Sombra inclined his head and sneered. "Behind this.. changeling queen? Again, I'm offended. I should at least be considered worse than that." An appraising eye swept over Midnight, ponderous, wondering why this pony refused to flinch in the face of the very king of monsters himself. Either this pony was stupid, foolish, or just plain arrogant. If the areion was underestimating him despite his warning, then Sombra would be sure that Midnight paid dearly for that foolishness.

 

Snorting softly, Sombra tossed his head, his long, wavy mane fluttering and resettling back around his neck and on his shoulders. "Am I on the 'princess' list'? I would have expected they'd think I was dead. Surely they don't still have any suspicions about me." The phrasing of Midnight's statement concerned him greatly. They.. couldn't think he survived, could they? A frown crossed his muzzle and the tall stallion moved, following after Midnight when he wordlessly insisted that he follow. "Old Canterlot.." Sombra quietly repeated, curious.

 

"I look forward to seeing what exactly this 'night-life' nonsense is you speak of. I'm unfamiliar with the term, if it means anything beyond something to do with a nocturnal schedule," the king mused with a flick of his tail. This pony was assuming quite a lot about him to think that he might like this 'Old Canterlot', or this 'night-life'. What exactly was it? He'd just have to follow this pony and see for himself, if Midnight wouldn't bother explaining it along the way. As Sombra often expected from ponies. They liked their surprises, as if they were pleasant things and not something obnoxious or fearful as it truly was.

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As the Bat Pony walked, he would sigh. "Princess Luna has a way of keeping an eye on things through the realm of dreams. It's how she knew when the Crystal Empire returned." Chuckling a bit, he continued. "I wouldn't go having any dreams about taking over Equestria...or anyplace else for that matter if I where you." Midnight would look back to Sombra and smirk. "I'm sorry that I offended you, but it's just that that pesky changeling queen has been more....active as of late. Last I checked you didn't foalnap the Princess of Love...twice...but that was before my time." Midnight was being honest, as he had not yet joined the Royal Guard until after the Battle of Canterlot, though he liked to think that if he had enlisted earlier, things in the Royal Guard would have been different..

 

Midnight perked up at the tone in Sombra's voice at the repeat of 'Old Canterlot' as he turned to him and grinned. "Old Canterlot is well....the oldest neighborhood in the city. It actually predates the city becoming our capital. It's where myself and a most of the areions in the city call home, hence why it is so active at night," as he winked to the umbra unicorn.

 

It would not be long after that they would arrive. The neighborhood looked like something out of a history book, from the old wooden, unpainted building to the yellowed glass of the windows. "Welcome to the oldest part of the city. A part where most of the nobles wish nothing to do with...." He would pause and let Sombra look around. "If you have any questions about this area, by all means ask. It is my home after all, right in the shadow of Canterlot Castle."

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A dark eyebrow rose in disbelief. Did ponies put the royal sisters on so high a pedestal that they believed the princesses to be omniscient? Gods? King Sombra quietly scoffed and rolled his eyes. They weren't gods, they were vulnerable, but long lived, immortals with great power- and still ponies. They were flawed beings, they made mistakes, they could lose, they could fail. Though they defeated him, they had lost the Crystal Empire to his curse, had failed to protect the very ponies he'd been hurting and terrorizing during his reign. He knew exactly what he was doing; there was no excuse not to know.

 

They weren't omniscient, nor could they know he returned, although he was sure that somewhere in the backs of their minds, they might suspect his potential to return. Sombra could only hope they thought him truly dead after the way the Crystal Heart's magic had torn him apart before the eyes of their pawns, the very pawns they'd sent to prevent him from retaking the empire. He knew, for certain, that the new crystal princess was just a puppet they'd placed upon the empire's throne.. no matter how much like Amore she seemed to look, but he'd only managed to catch a glimpse of her when she flew by him that day.

 

A scowl had settled on Sombra's face while he walked, and some of it lingered when his mind came back to the present, becoming aware again that Midnight was talking about how he hadn't foalnapped some 'princess of love' unlike this Queen Chrysalis figure. He sifted through his mind, letting what'd been said catch up to him with recall. "As I've said before, you certainly seem to make a lot of assumptions about me. I had my reasons for taking over the Crystal Empire, and it'd been the only choice left to me too. I do not have dreams about taking over kingdoms. I hardly dream, or sleep, at all," Sombra grumbled.

 

A soft grunt was the response to the apology. Offended? Maybe he was, a little.

 

"The original part of the city?" he repeated, musing. It might be interesting to see it, something that made it clear that the capital city of Canterlot wasn't so perfect as it tried to present itself. Although he knew the truth, especially when it came to ponies. Remaining quiet, Sombra continued to walk with the areion and began to notice the change in the structure of the buildings until they finally reached Old Canterlot, and he eyed the wooden buildings and their more dated architecture. "I can see why they wouldn't," Sombra quietly commented. Those stuck up so-called nobles thought they were too good for anything. The mention of it being in the shadow of the castle drew his eye up to the skyline, where he could still see the spires and towers of the marble castle against the star-flecked blue-black night sky, and the moon. "Why do you.. areion live here?"

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Midnight would take note of Sombra’s reaction to his neighborhood. He studied the Shadow Kings facial expressions as well as his tone of voice.    Sombra’s question however caught him by surprise.

 

Midnight would smile at Sombra, emphasizing his fangs. “There are a few reasons, to be honest that I, as well as some of my kind live here.” He would point a hoof across the way to an old two story building with a shop below and apartment above. “For one thing the rent is very adorable here, what with how most ponies see this area. Secondly, with Canterlot growing around it, with its taller buildings, this area is always in shade, which is a nice feature when you have eyes like mine. Lastly,” he said, pointing to Canterlot Castle, “It’s close my job.” 

 

“Now then, would you care for something to eat? My favorite pastry shop is just over here. The best fruit filled donut you’ll ever taste, and it is close enough to my meal break.”

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Sombra saw Midnight looking at him out of the corner of his eye, and turned his head in time to catch the curious glimpse of the areion's fangs. These strange bat-winged ponies had fangs, as well as slit-pupiled eyes like himself. It made him wonder where they came from, what created them.. if anything at all had anything to do with such ponies. Corrupt pegasi might be one such possibility, knowing the nature of certain dark magics, but Sombra highly doubted it.

 

"Makes sense," Sombra replied, a short and simple response. His eyes flicked back towards Canterlot Castle, where he knew the royal sisters to live. It was something of an amusing thought to know that he was right under their noses, and they weren't any the wiser. He hoped it would stay that way. He didn't want to know what would happen if they discovered him here. A fight? Another attempt to banish him or lock him up? The worst place he could think of that wasn't back to that icy void would be Tartarus itself. The mere thought of being imprisoned again almost made him shudder; he had to suppress it so that Midnight wouldn't start asking him questions.

 

The king was distracted from his thoughts again by Midnight's question and he quietly grunted. "I don't really need to eat, but if you insist, perhaps I'll join you for your.. meal break and try out what foods Equestria has to offer. I do hope it is more interesting than Crystal Empire fare." Meaning, more variety and flavor than the empire's strange crystal foods. Although they weren't really crystal, they were just affected by the same magic that gave the crystal ponies their glittering coats and manes. To an extent.

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Midnight would nod to the umbra unicorn and extend a hoof forward. "After you," he said with a smile, guiding Sombra into the small pastry shop. The inside was dim with only the light from the ovens as well as a single gas lantern on each table for illumination. The areion would take a seat at a table near the window. He took his helmet off and sat it beside him, then motioned for Sombra to take the seat across from him. "Your in for a treat. These are the best in all of Equ-." as he would stop, his ear twitching from hearing hoofsteps.

 

"Good Evening Midnight," a mare’s voice would say, "I take it your here for your usual weekly special?" The shop owner was also an areion who had also taken up residence in 'Old Canterlot.' Midnight Smiled, "Double my order, I have a guest whom I showing Canterlot tonight." "Alright, I'll be back in a few minuets."

 

 

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A glance was cast towards Midnight's leg and Sombra started forward, walking by the areion's side to the pastry shop, The inside was dimly lit, but the shadow king had no trouble seeing once his eyes adjusted to the gloom. On their way to a table by the window, his glittering red eyes flitted about, taking in all the details and picking out who else was present in the store before he seated himself across from the other stallion.

 

Sombra took note of what Midnight looked like without his helmet, again curiously eying the grey fur and black mane that was so reminiscent of his own coloration. It was strange, and perhaps just a coincidence.

 

The umbrum looked up when a voice caught his attention, and he spied another areion, this one a mare who he presumed to be a waitress or a servant of some sort. Somepony who seemed to be familiar with Midnight, and Sombra could guess from just that detail that Midnight came here often, especially if the mare might already know what it was Midnight bought from this establishment. It was a curious thing, and the king had to wonder what kind of 'order' it was, what food Midnight often got here. Whatever it was, Sombra did dare to look forward to trying it.

 

"So," Sombra spoke up, idly tapping the edge of the table with a black hoof. "What would be.. 'these'? I'm curious about what food we're getting, seeing as you haven't told me a thing about it."

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Midnight grinned. “Just the best pastries that you have or will ever devour. Just imagine, warm, buttery, pastry filled with all kinds of fresh fruit...apple...cherry....blueberry...the filling is just so delicious.”  Undenounced to the bat pony, his description of their soon to be delivered meal had made him drool.

 

A few moments later, a tray of the aforementioned  delicacies would be placed before them. “Do you smell that,” he would say. “Just makes you want to sink your fangs right into them.”

 

Midnight would grab a strawberry filled one first and sink his fangs into it, extracting the red filling out of it first before devouring the outer crust. He would look up to Sombra, licking the filling from his lips, waiting to see the umbra unicorn’s reaction to the pastry.

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Sombra raised a dark eyebrow. He could try his damnedest to imagine it, if he wanted to take Midnight even the slightest bit seriously, but he wouldn't be able to. The flavors of the fruits, other than apple, was entirely beyond him. Something he might get to find out tonight, once their food arrived. It didn't take long for it to, and it saved Sombra from having to see Midnight drooling over the fruity pastries he'd described.

 

The tall king was vaguely aware that Midnight was saying something, and he leaned forward with interest, sniffing the air to take in the pastries' warm, sweet scents. It was appealing enough that he found himself more willing to try these sweets out. A glance was cast up towards Midnight, as if ensuring the areion didn't think he was sniffing all because he'd been told to. Not at all. Using a sliver of dark magic, the only magic he could wield, Sombra lifted one of the pastries curiously. This one appeared to have some sort of dark blue filling to it. He bit carefully, chewed, and found that it was actually rather good. It'd been ages since he'd even dared to eat something sweet, and this wasn't overly sugary. It was a natural sweet, as fruit was.

 

"Hm," the stallion grunted. "I'm surprised to say that I'd have to agree with you. These are good."

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Midnight looked over to Sombra and grinned before grabbing a cherry filled pastry. “It’s nice to hear that you approve of our areion cuisine. Most ponies see our fangs and assume that we are vamp...but our diet is similar to most. We are just are more reliant on fruit then grains and greens. That’s not to say that our fangs haven’t been used to draw blood i the past....” The bat pony looked down in shame. “You bite one pony in self defense and...” he mumbled, thinking back to his uneasy arrival in Fet Loch.

 

Midnight shook it off and returned his attention to the pastry before him, again using his fangs to extract the natural fruit filling, then eating the buttery outside. “So... any questions you may have? Perhaps on areion history or maybe how we came to occupy this section of Canterlot, or ponies first reaction to us returning from our self  exile?”

 

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Areion cuisine? The shadow king grunted and continued to eat his blueberry filled pastry, only glancing up and catching how Midnight was eating his. It was a little strange, and he could imagine why ponies thought areions were vampires.. or like vampires. Sombra snorted softly and licked crumbs of the pastry from his lips. "Something like fruit bats, then?" he queried, although it wasn't too serious a question.

 

An eyebrow arched. It sounded like there was a story behind biting a pony in self defense, something that he felt enough intrigue to want to hear about while he was still having a conversation with Midnight. He withheld it and chose to follow the opening the other grey stallion left him with to ask questions. "I suppose that will be a good start. I'd like to know about where areion came from, why they're so different from pegasi.. and yes, their history. I'd like to hear about it, to hear about a species I don't hear about every day." Like the modern three tribes, for example, and the crystal ponies. He already knew enough about them that they weren't all that interesting. But areion? They had his attention, and it was clear from the things he wanted to know that he was eager to learn anything new.

 

Sombra plucked up another fruit-filled pastry and bit into it. This time he could more readily identify the fruit: apples. It was different from raw apples, and still quite pleasant. Sweet. He settled further into his seat while he ate, making himself comfortable to listen to Midnight.

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Midnight nodded. “Yep. Fruit is our main form of substance, though there are stories...legends if you will of one colony that has been cursed, and forced to become vampires...but it’s just an Equestrian Ponytale.” The bat pony would pick up another of the pastries, this one being apple. He would quickly devour it in the same fashion as the others before it.

 

”My kind have always been smaller then the other tribes in  Equestria. We have always been associated with night and darkness, hence our connection to Princess Luna. When she was banished...we went into exile. We became almost as much of a legend as Nightmare Moon.” Midnight sighed as he looked out the yellowed glass to the moon. “I feel because of this, it’s why most ponies shun us.”

 

 

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The mention of a curse turning some of them into vampires was enough to furrow Sombra's dark eyebrows while he ate on his pastry. A curse. They interested him greatly, because they were something that he was good at. If given the chance, and a good enough incentive to help, then he'd be able to help others figure out and undo such curses.. However, nothing warranted a reason for him, and especially when this one mention of a curse could only be a foal's tale. Although.. who knew, really? He was curious to see if any of these vampires actually existed.

 

"Associated with night and darkness because you remind ponies of bats, creatures that are nocturnal- they only come out at night. As I presume areion do, too." Sombra fell silent, puzzling over the exile in particular. He grunted.

 

"As somepony who fought the royal sisters himself, it still surprises me to know that Princess Luna fell to her own darkness and became so.. corrupted, to the point she took on this new name of hers. When I met them to do battle, they struck me as ponies do who think they're so pure, so perfect, who cannot do wrong. And yet here she fell. It makes me wonder how much longer it will take before Celestia falls, too." There was a note of satisfaction in his voice, of a smugness, knowing that they really weren't so perfect as they tried to lead others to believe.

 

"Ponies shun those that are different from them. They are afraid of what is new and things that they do not understand. Look at how they act about the Everfree Forest. It is a dangerous place, to be true, but what I hear when they speak of how scary it is, is because the weather behaves as it wishes, rather than adheres to the control they exert over everything else." Sombra paused, cocking his head and finishing the last bite of his pastry. "It is the only reason they fear, and shun. They do not understand, and it is not like them or the way they wish it to be. I know this from experience."

 

Silence fell again for a brief few minutes as he considered Midnight, curious about something else that'd been mentioned. "Why is it you believe areion are connected to Princess Luna? Or is it because your species has attached themselves to her because she begins the night?"

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