dragonofruin

Late Night Encounter [Invite Only]

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"Yeah... You're  right... I just... I just wanted to get it right the first time, to show you good I can be..." Raven said, her tears drying up as Sombra comforted her. She wasn't sure exactly why, but she wanted to impress Sombra, to show him that she was worth being around. She sat there in his embrace for a bit, before smiling weakly. "I suppose we should move on to crystals, then? I'll need to send a letter to some geologists or magic researchers in the Crystal Empire then... It's possible I may have to ask the Princess herself..." She mused idly. She hadn't seen Princess Cadence personally, but knew of her through the good old Canterlot gossip grapevine. She wouldn't let Sombra know, but she planned to ask about more then crystals, however...

 

That could wait though, the fatigue of the energy draining from her rapidly was quickly wearing off, and she wanted to make sure he was okay, as well as get the study back in order. Either the winds or her magic had whipped papers through the room, even a few books were had been thrown around. She smiled at Sombra again, and playfully pushed her way out of his arms. "We should... Actually, scratch that. I need to clean this mess up first. If you want to go do something else, feel free, I'm fine now..."

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A part of Sombra was tempted to brush a hoof over Raven's mane while he held her to his chest, but he couldn't bring himself to do much more than that. "Yes, I suppose so. It might be useful to see what we can do with crystals. I may be able to do the enchantment this time, if for the sake of showing you how so that you can do so yourself when you're ready," he quietly replied. Feeling the mare squirming out of his forelegs, he glanced down and spied the smile on her face- the fact that she was smiling told him all was well.

 

Sombra let her go and backed off, dropping his hooves to the ground and clearing his throat. He wasn't sure how to feel about Raven's intent on asking the new Crystal Princess about crystals, but he doubted the pink mare would suspect anything at all. As far as anypony knew, he was dead. Sombra still had questions about how he even survived, but that would probably remain a mystery. "I don't have anything else to do, I'm afraid," the umbrum put in with a little shrug, rising to his hooves. Magic flickered around some of the papers and books and he lifted them with his magic, straightening the papers up in a pile and levitating the books back up onto their shelves. He was quiet, pensive, stepping around the room and picking up what else had been thrown around by her wild magic.

 

They still had some bars of silver left to work with, and Sombra was already considering a second attempt at an enchanted horn decoration for Raven. In hindsight, he had to yet again ask himself why he was helping, as if the reasons he'd been thinking about weren't enough, or were shallow reasons. Perhaps he didn't always have to give in to his umbrum nature, and there was no reason to here- he wasn't in any danger.

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Raven smiled as they finished cleaning, glad Sombra had decided to stay and help. A thought struck her though, and she had to bite her lip to keep from blurting it out, the last time still fresh in her mind. After a bit, she organized her thoughts, and figured the best way to ask what she wanted to ask was to hint at it. "Hey, Sombra... Seriously, thank you for all the help... It's actually a little weird, usually I'm the one helping. Anyway, I... I just wanted to make sure... You know you're free to stay here, for as long as you like, right?"

 

 

Subtly, she was actually asking if he was going to leave her, if he would make her feel like an outsider... like an orphan, again. It wasn't a major fear, but a note of it did jolt through, at the thought of feeling like a stranger amongst her so called peer group. She smiled softly, trying to mask her true emotions as she went to sit back in the chair once more...

 

((So, I'm thinking, when we go to do the crystal thing, we ask Bellosh to play Cadence, sound good?))

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Sombra set the last few books back onto the shelves on his side of the room and turned to face Raven, hearing the hesitant beginning of her sentence. "I know," he replied simply. After a few minutes' silence that followed this, he thought to expand on his response. "I may not always be around, mind you. I know that I can always come back here, but I may leave on occasion to nose around Equestria. Especially now that you've alerted me to the existence of the Alicorn Amulet. It's quite an interesting artifact and I'm curious about it, about its whereabouts."

 

Tilting his head, he made his way over towards one of the available seats and plucked a few papers off of it, straightening them in his magic as he sat down and levitating them towards Raven's desk. "Is there something the matter?" Sombra queried, curious. She looked like she was a little worried, but he wasn't sure about how much he was really reading into any of it. "Even if I leave for a while, I'll always come back. Perhaps I might even try to drag you out on some adventure. Surely an adventure would do you some good, to get away from Canterlot and these so called nobles."

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"Wouldn't have to twist my leg too much to get me to go... It's been a while since I've been on an adventure, camping under the stars... Used to do it with my parents..." Raven said, a soft and weak smile crossing her face. Soon, however, she let out a sigh and her expression dropped once more. She didn't really like thinking about this stuff, but Sombra seemed to really care... and who knows, maybe it would help her to let it all out.

 

 

With this in mind, she began to speak, slowly and hesitantly at first. "It's... It's just... I... I miss them a lot. I know it's silly and even foolish, going on five or so years now, but every day I wake up with some hope still left... that they'll walk through the door finally... It doesn't help that I've never really felt accepted by the others in Canterlot... Either I'm pitied for my horn, and treated like a little foal, or they see me as a way to better themselves... and that's not counting those that made fun of me before I left school to study independently... I... I guess I just feel so alone... and... and I like spending time with you, you make me feel accepted, like my parents used too..." Raven finished with a sad tone, her eyes watering up, short sniffling sounds coming from her...

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Sombra came close to making an amused noise in his throat, and he was glad he chose not to. Raven's parents seemed to be a sore topic for her- every time she brought them up, she grew sad. "I never knew what it was like to have parents, so I can't presume to know what your situation is like," he replied. "Though I can understand something: never being accepted by others. Of course, you have the fortune of actually being a pony, rather than an umbrum forced into the form of one. I wouldn't waste time with the ponies in Canterlot."

 

He leaned forward in his seat, reaching to gently bump Raven's shoulder with one of his dark hooves. If she kept sniffling and bursting into tears, he'd just have to -- keep hugging her until she felt better. Probably. Though he wasn't sure how much hugging he'd be able to do. "I can't offer platitudes or false hopes about the possibility of your parents still being out there. All I can say is this: I'd be happy to bring you along on a few adventures with me, although I don't know how much they'll be adventures than they would be me wandering Equestria in search of my newest interest, or whatever else there might be. The modern day has quite a lot of new changes I haven't yet gotten to see." The Crystal Empire wouldn't exactly be on his list, but he might follow Raven most of the way to ensure she got there safely.

 

[I didn't realize I didn't respond OOCly after my last post until now but I'd be up for that!]

 

 

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"Th... that sounds nice..." Raven managed to get out, slowly calming back down. She sat there for a bit, silently staring into the unlit fireplace, as if the ashes had answers to her problems. She finally took a steadying breath, and smiled at Sombra once more. "Thanks... for being here for me." Raven looked with a displeased frown at the broken decoration, not wanting to really contenplate it, but still the thought had merit. 

 

"So, how do we move forward now? I mean, with the focus? I don't think I really have the knowledge right now to be able to weave such a complex combinations of spellwork, and besides, I'm not even really sure where to begin in terms of how much energy it would need... I still think the idea has merit, especially since if we can get it working, maybe we can help others like me feel whole once more, but I definitely think that linking the stored energy in the focus to my energy, or maybe even allowing the focus to store energy is not a great path to follow..." She finally broached the topic, her words quickly becoming almost monologuish in nature as she started to rattle off her thoughts...

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"Actually," Sombra began thoughtfully, with only a nod towards Raven's gratitude in her improving mood, "I was thinking of making it myself. It may work, as I don't know anypony who I trust enough with the magic needed to create those enchantments. I don't think the fact that I use dark magic would interfere if my intent isn't to harm or corrupt.." Again, it would simply need another test to see how well it'd do for Raven, though he was hesitant to put her in harm's way again after the first one failed so terribly.

 

"Indeed, I'd have to agree. Storing magic within gems is only useful if you need to access excess magic, which can be quite tricky until you learn how to without possibly hurting yourself. It can take time to properly learn, and only then after you have full control of your magic that isn't affected by the crack in your horn." Sombra spoke bluntly as he indicated it with a slight nod of his head towards Raven. It was something that couldn't be helped, unless she were to want to find an expert healer to attempt something.. but he had no desire to try to 'fix' her or the disability she had. It might as well be a part of her at this point, and even Raven didn't seem interested in the idea when he posed it yesterday.. or was it the other day? Sombra couldn't quite recall when they'd had that conversation.

 

"We'll make a new one and see what we can do to make it work."

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Raven nodded before realizing what Sombra had said. "Wait, dark magic?" She asked, unable to keep a tiny sliver of fear from her voice. She wasn't actually afraid of it, having never heard of it before, but there were certain things that always sent a twinge of fear down one's spine...

 

"I've studied magic for quite some time, and I've never heard of that type of magic... Is it hard to use? How powerful is it? Is it dangerous?" Raven asked, her voice almost giddy with excitement. She had always loved learning new forms of magic, and was slightly amazed there were still schools she didn't know of at all. "Do... Do you think you could teach me it?"

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A dark brow rose and Sombra gestured at his horn; in hindsight, though, she probably didn't recognize it for what it was. "I've been using dark magic the entire time," he replied. Dark magic flared to life around his horn, curling purple smoke edged in green, with the occasional flicker of black energy. The same purple smoke leaked from the corners of his glowing eyes. "It's.. old. I'd assume to be the magic of the umbrum, but there are different forms of dark magic. Some old artifacts have their own form of it. I only know mine."

 

Her request to teach her left him conflicted. He could teach her, but it was dark magic.. it might corrupt her. Sombra didn't know how, or how quickly it would, but he was wary. On one hoof, teaching her would be of some use to her, to recognize it and combat against it. At the same time, he was hesitant for her to come to any harm. "I might be able to. To answer your questions: it's extremely dangerous and may end up eventually corrupting the user, unless you're me. It's fairly powerful, and the difficulty of its use depends on how well you can access your emotions. Specifically: rage. If you can't harness your anger, you'll have a great difficulty in using it. With unicorns.. I imagine you'd be corrupting your own magic just to wield it when you call on it, though it won't be permanent. Possibly. You'll have to exercise extreme caution and use it sparingly."

 

Sombra let his magic go out, and his eyes returned to normal- or as normal as they could be when they were already unusual- slit pupils, and a green tinge to his sclera. "I think the Alicorn Amulet is a dark magic relic, too. It's own brand. Why else would it corrupt the user? Knowing dark magic and knowing how to recognize it, whether as magic or an artifact like the Amulet, will help you recognize such things so that you can protect yourself and others from it."

 

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Raven hadn't noticed the way his eyes had flared with power before, but took stock of it now. To her credit, even as the instinctual twinge of fear shot though her, she managed to stay calm and even relaxed. "So, it draws strength from anger... and is highly corruptive... or at least, it makes you feel good about using it, so as to make you want to use it... maybe it has a bit of a carthatic element to it." She mused, though not with much enthusiasm. Sombra's description made it seem less appealing, not because of the rage part, for if she was not sad or normal, she was angry at the injustices she saw... Which there was a thought. Would it even be possible to use dark magic to the benefit of ponykind?

 

"So you think we can make the enchantment for it with dark magic... What if that's how the Alicorn Amulet works? I'm not afraid to give it a try, just voicing a potential issue. After all, what's the worst that can happen, I go power mad and try to take over Canterlot? I'm pretty sure that goes so far against my nature it'll never happen." Raven said with a giggle. She didn't doubt that he could probably keep the corruptive parts out, but figured caution was prudent...

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The umbrum shrugged and leaned back in his chair, comfortably relaxing with his forelegs draped over the armrests. "The Alicorn Amulet seems to work like many other such artifacts. Whoever or whatever first created them did so to purposefully lure ponies to cause chaos and harm. I don't speak about Discord when I say chaos. I mean their intents were malicious, to lure ponies using their own greed and lust for power." Of course, Sombra wouldn't admit or deny he had a lust for power, but he didn't think the Alicorn Amulet could affect him. He was dark magic- why would it?

 

Of course, he'd never know until he got his hooves on it.

 

Turning his thoughts towards something else, like the topic at hoof and Raven herself, he cleared his throat. "I think I can make it work. There has to be a way I can perform spells that work the same as they would with normal magic, if my intent isn't malicious.. We'll just have to find out once I make another." A small smile flickered across Sombra's snout at Raven's joke. Sombra felt confident that such a thing wouldn't happen- he'd just have to be careful.

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Raven nodded, smiling at Sombra before her expression turned thoughtful. If they were to go on adventures... Raven needed to be able to defend herself, so she spoke up as she got out of the chair. "If... If we are to go out adventure, I think it best if I can defend myself. Besides, you're right, that I should learn to live with my... warrior side." She floated over a scroll and quill before heading towards the door. "I'm going to head to a part of the house I've not been in for many a year, would you like to see the Dupone training hall? Either way, I'm sure I'm going to need to refit it, it has probably not been well taken care of, unless my uncle has been watching over it."

 

She paused by the door a bit, making sure the quill had an ink reservoir in it before heading out. Raven found her way through an almost maze like mess of hallways till she came to a locked door. After unlocking it with a spell, it opened to reveal stairs leading down into what would be a basement, hewn from the very mountain rock. She slowly walked down, letting the memories of her last time here play over her. It hadn't been when she had cracked her horn, but instead, sometime soon after she had gotten her cutie mark, the event almost traumatizing her thanks to how suddenly she had lashed out to hurt those diamond dogs, not that they didn't deserve it.

 

Upon reaching the landing at the bottom, Raven paused for a second. She was uncomfortable with doing this, but soon her face took on a hard edge to it, and she almost defiantly walked through the passage to a circular room. The center had a mat, clearly rotting with mildew and mold, while along one side of the wall was a bunch of dummies, obviously made for combat practice, or at least they would have been if not for the fact that some of the limbs and sides had fallen away thanks to more rot. The other side of the room, however, had what looked almost like a small shrine, with a set of armor, and a few weapons, oddly well taken care of in a room that stank of neglect. The armor was not decorated much, just a small coat of arms and some paint, but was of very high quality, and the blades looked to be made with rare steel, some forged in forms that were exotic to Equestria, but most were like what would be commonly used by the REA. The only thing that seemed to be missing was the helmet, but she knew that the set had never had a helmet. Raven slowly approached the arms, and started going over them, making sure there was no hidden signs of wear and tear. They were after all, the Dupone ancestral arms, and Raven winced as she realized she had forgotten about them. She cheered up a little when she saw the enchantments on the equipment were still there, and soon was slipping on the simpler parts of the armor, just because she wanted to feel what it was like. As she put more of the armor on, she started to seem to stand taller, more confidence obvious in her stance as she took on an almost commander like pose. With little ceremony or even explanation, she gathered the mats and dummies together, and set about burning them, the quill flowing across the scroll, writing a list of things she would need to be able to train again...

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He couldn't quite remember when he'd ever said she ought to learn to live with her 'warrior side' and reflected upon the conversations they'd had. Well, maybe he had, just not in the same phrasing. Sombra believed she ought to be willing to protect herself, especially if other ponies or creatures intended to harm, or even kill, her. There was no point holding back if one's own safety was on the line.

 

"Dupone training hall, hm?" Sombra repeated. "Of course. I could stand to see what it looks like." Pulling himself back out of his seat he made to follow her, though he stopped by the table that still held their materials on it and plucked up another bar of silver, as well as a few gems just in case. He might not do any active training himself, not right away unless he felt like it, but he might watch Raven train to see what she was capable of. Now that he had everything he intended to bring with him, Sombra trailed after the mare through the halls of her large home, frowning a little at a layout he still hadn't learned in its entirety.

 

When they arrived and stepped through the doorway, Sombra's snout immediately wrinkled. This place had gone to rot, it seemed, and the strange scent of mildew permeated the air unpleasantly. Snorting, he wandered further into the large room, stepping around what was slowly decomposing and moldering from what looked like years of disuse. His eyes swept away from the mat and the cloth dummies that were slowly coming apart to search for some windows, if the room had any. If he could open them up, the place could be aired out a bit. A glance was cast back towards Raven when she busied herself with burning what wasn't salvageable and Sombra noticed the bits of armor that she'd tried on from the stands.  He'd have to inspect them later. "I can understand why this place hasn't seen use in quite some time.. but I'm surprised nopony has tried to maintain it," he commented.

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Sombra's comment drew Raven out of her new attitude, her posture slouching a little. "Yeah..." An armor clad foreleg came up to rub at the back of her neck. "I... I kinda wanted to forget about this side of my life... There were good memories, sure... but a lot more bad ones..." She explained, suddenly seeming unsure of herself. She paced out to the center of the room before sighing.

 

After a second realizing that she, by turning her back on this side, had actually dishonored her family, her face and posture shifted once more. It was almost like there were two different Ravens, the soft, caring one that Sombra had gotten to know, and the one that had come out in the alleyway, that first night. The way she stood made obvious it was the second one, and she started going through some simple motions, similar to the martial arts practiced in Neighpon, though with an clear Equestrian bend to them. In truth, it was devised by her family, taught to her from a young age. It was obvious she was rusty, her balance off, but quickly improved as she went through the basic forms, the weight of the armor becoming almost second nature.

 

Finishing the forms, she stopped, and sighed. That was all she was able to do right now, and went to put up the armor. She got thoughtful for a second, and quickly scribbled some more things onto her list. "So, I'm going to have some people make more mats and dummies, which they will be delivering here... Was also thinking of getting a cabinet down here to contain some cleaning supplies and other things... Can... Can you think of anything else I might need? Oh! I might also get some tutors, I want to work on this my way, not that I don't appreciate you being here, and any help you might have offered... I... I just want to do this alone, you know? Kinda... Kinda feels like I have to, to make up for letting this place fall into disrepair..." She headed to the way out, waiting on Sombra before heading back to the study...

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One of his ears twitched and he eyed Raven, noting the change in her confident posture. "Maybe so, but training yourself again, even in a place like this, can be helpful to you. You can set aside those bad memories, because they won't help protect you unlike learning to fight will." He turned away, going back to what he'd been doing: pushing aside moth-eaten curtains and opening the windows to let in some fresh air. The room hadn't been aired out properly in years, and it smelled.

 

Once he'd finished with that and turned back, Sombra sat down to watch as Raven went through the motions of some sort of.. fighting style, though Sombra wouldn't find the words to describe if he'd been asked to. He could only watch as she practiced various motions unfamiliar to him, as most things would be. It was fascinating to see the change in her that it all wrought, too. So.. serious, and focused. It was baffling that she'd never wanted to take advantage of her fighting skill, although she'd given him the reasons already: Raven didn't want to hurt anypony. While she practiced her forms, Sombra's attention drifted to the materials he'd brought to the training hall and started on the silver bar, changing and twisting its shape to mimic the horn decoration he'd made just yesterday.

 

He didn't look up until he heard Raven's sigh. "Hrm." Sombra grunted, glancing around the room. "Wooden training weapons, perhaps? Or is this.. fighting skill of yours best without them? It and your magic." Pondering other ideas, he studied the room. Raven had already brought up 'cleaning supplies'. "You might've already covered everything you'll need for this place. In any case, if you don't have what you need you can always get it later." The stallion shrugged and rose back to his hooves, moving across the room to leave the training hall once it became clear that Raven intended to leave it.

 

"If you want to do it alone, I don't fault you. I can't say that my attempt to teach somepony would be gentle."

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Raven nodded as she walked back through the house, her walk having shifted so extremely slightly towards being more confident. "I've not practiced with weapons, but I need to. The Dupone melee arts start with a basic foundation of hoof-to-hoof combat, before including other weapons... Once I'm not as rusty, I'll get some tutors for wordplay and such..." She stopped for a second, a wierd look on her face that was a mixture of thoughtful and disappointment. Did Sombra think she was afraid of pain?

 

"It's not that... it's... I have to do this, alone... I...  I can't... It's like there's something in me... Like if I want to make my family, and those around me proud, I have to do this... I mean... You know? How sometimes you just feel you have to do something, and you know it to be true?" She tried to explain, before slowly moving towards the study...

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Sombra listened to Raven talk in silence while he kept pace with her, making their way back through her house back to the study. The materials he brought with him floated in his magic, and he idly toyed with the forming metal of the horn decoration, his attention split between it and her. "Wordplay?" he repeated, his attention caught by the word. What did she mean by that? Banter? He wouldn't find out until she explained it to him, if she would.

 

His head cocked, one ear twitching towards the pause in Raven's explanations. "I know the feeling well enough, although mine stems from a different experience than yours does," Sombra replied with a thoughtful little frown crossing his muzzle. At the time, before he took control of the Crystal Empire, he'd felt that he had to no matter what. It wasn't like he could go back to living the so-called 'normal' life he'd had before he found out the truth. Alas. Exhaling softly, the shadow king trailed after the mare and headed towards the seat he'd been previously occupying once they entered the study again, a room that was slowly becoming a usual haunt for him so long as he was lurking in Raven's home. After he'd sat down, Sombra turned his attention to the metal in his magic, working it in the same way he had the first one.

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Raven looked confused for a second when Sombra repeated wordplay, before letting out a yawn. "Oh... I meant swordplay... I must be more tired then I thought... Guess I'll turn in... Night, Sombra..." She said, another yawn confirming her statement. She'd made it to the door, before another thought hit her. "Hey, there's gonna be delivery ponys dropping stuff off for a bit, I don't know if any would even begin to recognize you, but... I just want you to be safe, you know..." She blushed a little, embarrassment from revealing that she cared that much about him coloring her face, even as she gave him a little smile.

 

She nodded goodbye to him before heading to her room, hopping in the bath first to get the grime from what little practicing she had done off, and collapsed into the bed. She smiled widely at her plans before falling asleep, her dreams full of family activities, with Sombra there as a big brother... She woke early, smiling as she decided to get part of the plan out of the way. Figuring it would take a while to reach the Crystal Empire, be read, and responded to, she started on her letter.

 

To Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor,

     Hello, My name is Raven Shadowfire, Heir of House Dupone. I would like to formally request a private audience with your majesties. I hope to be able to discuss matters pertaining to requiring research subjects such as sample of unique geologic formations with high concentrations of thaumic energy, and setting up research projects within the Crystal Empire's domain, as well as setting up a donation fund to help with any possible civil projects that could use the help. I humbly request a response at your earliest convenience, and shall eagerly await it.

      Yours truly,

         Raven Shadowfire

 

Raven snuck the letter in the mail as soon as she was finished, and went to make breakfast, before heading out to acquire the tools she needed to train once more...

 

(( @dragonofruin: I plan on Raven basicly training for most of the day, before reading her family's journals in the evening for say about a week, though if you need her for something, say the word! I also gave PrinceBlueblood the go ahead, fyi :)))

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