Jump to content

Dark Rendezvous (Open! Attn: Ciraxis)


Recommended Posts

[ooc: This rp is based sometime during The Ending of the End. Sombra is currently traveling with a few ponies, (can be whoever!) on the way towards where everything's going on. The other Sombra still happened, it just might as well be a poor copy that mine never knew of, albeit he's likely to still catch the blame for it.]


The pleasant atmosphere of the Whitetail Woods was overshadowed by a peculiar foreboding aura. It'd been hanging over Equestria for a time now, and had only recently begun to boil over in the kingdom's capital city. Snippets of news occasionally reached the shadow king from where he traveled to the northeast of what had been happening during his travels, caught either from the mouth of ponies or the occasional newspaper he happened to stumble across. There was a mention about the Crystal Empire a few months back, too, one he tried not to pay too much attention to for the sake of distancing himself from it.


Although now these events were impossible to ignore. Talks of attack and ponies heading to help reached him, and Sombra felt curious enough to join a particular group heading towards the stretch of plains near Ponyville. He needed some sort of action in his life again, and whether or not STAR would call upon him for his assistance wouldn't matter, although they'd likely rope him into it anyway. This was something he was doing out of his own interest.


The former tyrant hung at the back of the group of ponies he was trailing through the Whitetail Woods. A dark, hooded cloak wrought with a little shadow magic mostly concealed his appearance from them to avoid any recognition, if it could be helped. He was still tall enough to tower over most ponies, and the grey fur of his legs and muzzle were still visible, details he hadn't bothered to mask because of how much he hated hiding any part of himself. It wasn't as if anypony would bother him for it, though, if their focus was more on the destination and whatever was happening. He'd caught the mentions of names elsewhere, like Tirek and Queen Chrysalis, names that he vaguely recognized.


Sombra tried to listen to what he could hear, although his attention kept straying towards one particular pony in the group. There was something about the mare, something about her magic, that was so.. familiar, and it bothered him. They'd met before, hadn't they? He was sure they had, but he couldn't quite place it. He kept a careful eye on her, puzzling over his memories. He was sure he knew this mare from a long time ago..


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So glued was Sombra's attention on this oddly familiar mare that he didn't notice he changes around him. Brunches of trees around them started to twist, starting to resemble the claws and talons, the woods outside the road started to be filled with ominous white haze, the crows's croaking could be heard from the distance. Even the group he was traveling with seemed to thin out.....


....But most important of all - he failed to notice that he made a wrong turn at the last crossroads. Or rather, failed to noticed there was another pathway.

"<giggle> So you finally noticed..." the mare on which the former tyrant was focusing on spoke at last. "Too little too late...You used to be more attentive." she continued as her coat, mane and clothing changed shape and color before his very eyes. The eastern pony....

A raven flew from outside their view, and landed on mare's extended leg. It's eyes shone jade, unnaturally so. Soul magic. And not of a healing kind...


The unicorn mare turned around. Different garb, different manestyle but the same face, and the same self-assured expression he remembered back when they first met....

"It's been a while Sombra. ...." Hou Shuren greeted her acquaintance. "My, you became even more brooding....."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

His aggressive search through his memories, even of that time in the Crystal Empire, eventually faltered when he began to notice the white haze filtering into his peripheral vision. He tore his eyes away to look around, taken aback by the appearance of what looked like mist drifting in from between the trees, of which had begun to change too. His mind no longer entirely consumed by the possible identity of the mare was now able to focus on the feeling of magic in the air. A glance ahead showed him that some of the ponies he'd been trailing after were out of view for the most part.




Sombra's eyes snapped back to the mare at the sound of that giggle and there was a slight widening of his eyes as her appearance changed towards somepony he could finally recognize. Of course. It was the one who'd visited him sometime during his rule in the Crystal Empire. One of very few unusual visitors, next to his yokai servant, Miles.


"I've had a lot on my mind," Sombra finally replied, eying her. He would always have some degree of suspicion for everypony he met, and Hou was no different. He hardly had any idea what reason she had for running into him like this, if she'd purposefully sought him out at all. If she had, how did she manage to find him?


Dark magic briefly flickered up around the king's curved horn beneath his hood and the cloak he was wearing quickly dispersed into shadow, no longer concealing most of him from view; his signature cape was the only exception. "Why are you here?" Sombra tried to cut straight through to the point.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Of course you did...that crown was very tight after all..." Hou answered, sporting that infuriating smirk of hers. One that implied that she knew more then she let on. The raven on her hoof squawked and turned into dust before Sombra's very eyes. She couldn't do that so quickly before.....

"For example, about how much world passed you by, when you were sent to....let's say, time-out....?" sorceress kept going, while her clothing changed rapidly from one design and color, to the next. It was clear she was trying to psych him out, made him question what's real and what's not.

"...Or was it because that cape isn't really befitting you anymore?" Shuren kept dwelling on subject, as their surroundings first turned photo-negative, and then into brilliance of psychedelic colors.


"Why am I.....? Oh Sombra, isn't that a question that I should ask You?" Hou deflected the question by throwing it right back him.....

"For example....it would be very inconvenient if you are going north..." she glanced briefly over her shoulder ..."...or north-west...anywhere near heartland of the Heartland really. Very, very inconvenient....." Shuren's smile turned a bit more sinister. it seemed that a lot weighted on Sombra's answer here....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

His dark eyebrows twitched up. Was that a jab at him? Sombra had no illusion that Hou was any sort of friend- she was just an odd, brief acquaintance he met once. His eyes dropped to the crumbling raven and back up to the mare, intrigued by it.


"I haven't figured that out yet, although.." Sombra tilted his head, taking note of their surroundings and how they shifted oddly. She had to be using magic of some kind, illusions.. "Considering what I've read about Equestrian history and how long Princess Luna was imprisoned in the moon, I'd guess it was over a thousand years." Unless somepony knew the exact number, it was just what Sombra would have to stick with.


His gaze snapped back to Hou. Her questions were beginning to make him wonder if she was driving at something about him, perhaps something about how he was no longer the tyrant of the Crystal Empire? Did she find issue with that? The king studied her coolly, his expression guarded.


"I asked you first," he retorted with the lift of one brow. "How would it be inconvenient, might I ask? As pointless as it may be to ask considering how you've been dodging my questions." The latter sentence was grumbled more than spoken as Sombra eyed her, unable to glean much from her decidedly coy attitude and the sinister edge to her smile. His body tensed under the drape of his cape, preparing himself for anything Hou might decide to throw at him; she was clearly up to something, he just couldn't figure out what. He had nothing to lose, and she had nothing to gain from him beyond his power, or an alliance of some sort.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

"More or less." Shuren confirmed former tyrant's estimation "The years you irrevocably lost need I remind you. Didn't it occurred to you, how you could use all this time?" she asked.

"But even that short amount of time you got was not gracious on you. You aged like milk. Spoiled, sour and on the way of becoming cheese." Hou summed up while leaning against something invisible. Sombra could notice that the sorceress was no longer smiling, instead sporting expression of...disappointment? It was hard to tell.


"And cheese is not an ingredient that I wish should be added to the meal that it's cooking up north. Many tiny pieces of light, two more that are well matured, and three, meaty pieces of darkness. All that is left is to allow them to simmer on their own in the pot...." Hou explained, laying thick the cooking metaphors.


"....But then I heard some reinforcements could arrive. And a part of those reinforcements was You. This....this would tip the scales too fast for my liking. I don't need another cook here...." Shuren admitted while squinting her eyes.

"......obviously I can't allow that to happen. But I am a reasonable pony, and I hope you are still one as well. So like a dark mage to dark mage - turn around, forget about the case and maybe we can later talk, about various things over a drink or two....." she proposed before widening her stance.


"....Or I will have to become more insistent. And you will find out how WELL I have aged." Hou added, threateningly.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way Hou leaned on empty air was.. odd, and not something he could figure out while her response held his attention captive. His eyes narrowed, disliking what she was implying about him with her.. unusual metaphors.


"As a matter of fact, I haven't aged a day since my return," Sombra replied, taking a few slow steps towards the sorceress. Towering. "My mind is still sharp, and I'm just as handsome as ever," he continued, his lips twisting into a sneer that bared some of his monstrous teeth. He cocked his head, strands of his long mane brushing over one of his shoulders.


"I wouldn't say I'm one of the reinforcements.. merely following them," he jerked his chin towards the distant group, who he'd lost sight of in the fog, "out of curiosity. I've been hearing about something going on around central Equestria that has ponies all in a fuss, and acting very unusually towards one another. I'd like to find out exactly why that is, unless you'd care to tell me.." The shadow king trailed off and leaned in, the pale white-green of his sclera brightening dramatically to a neon green glow that trailed faint wisps of purple. She was threatening him. Him. But why? What exactly would his presence do there that would have the mare so willing to try to stand off against him? The potential for a fight left Sombra missing his old armor, and he made a note to try to have some new armor made sometime. Something better than what he had.


"If all you want is a drink with me, you don't have to threaten me to get it; all you'd have to do is ask," Sombra added, his gaze intense as he stared into her eyes. "I'd just like to know what has you so ruffled over this, and the Crystal Empire to boot. Tell me up front, without your silly metaphors, Hou."

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shuren flashed an audacious smirk when Sombra tried to psych her out with physical size discrepancy between them. She begun encircling the stallion while still talking....


"Yes, you are still perceptive. And just as easy on the eyes as before...." she admitted while checking him out.... "....But....." she put the hoof to her temple, poking it. "There are few gaps here, isn't it? Memories that have holes in them, like a film reel with too many frames removed. Knowledge that you realize that by all means you should possess. Spells that names you recognize, but can't recall how to cast them..." she said, noticing with joy the unease in his eyes.

"You but a half of a warlock you once were Sombra." Hou stated, noticing with satisfaction that the former tyrant had no idea what she was talking about.


"You really have no clue, are you?" white mare noticed with great enjoyment. And it was nice to see his magic again, even if it was only....a foretaste. She herself enveloped her body in in toxic green-and-orange colored aura - just so she won't be upstaged. It was much more impressive then in the past. Illusions apprently, wasn't the only field in which  sorceress improved.

"You want to know what happened? Grogar happened. Yes, that Grogar. Or rather, Discord, pretending to be Grogar happened." Huo explained "What he tried to achieve through that, I don't know nor care - but he assembled a group consisting of Chrysalis, Tirek and his corresponding partner...what was her name?" sorceress paused tapping her chin as she tried to remember "Ahh yes, Cozy Glow. Well he wanted them to work together...and it worked. Too well. Anyway after unmasking and subduing Discord, those three now are in process of executing their revenge...and taking over Equestria perhaps?" the mare shrugged.

"But I am surprised I need to explain all of this to You Sombra. After all 'Grogar' summoned you at the first meeting, when this little dark club was established." Shuren dropped the revelation with a sinister grin.

"Although this You will probably deny that...right?"

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The king snorted softly, his nostrils flaring. She was circling him now, and he tried to keep an eye on her, rather than waste his time trying to turn to keep her in view. His tail flicked behind him and one eyebrow rose in response as she spoke about his memories; the compliment was overlooked, for now; he'd prompted that one. Sombra turned his head as she circled around to his other side, keeping a watch on her out of the corner of his glowing eye.


"What would you know about me? About anything going on in my mind or memories?" Sombra chose to ask, rather than justify anything she was saying. There were a few small gaps in his memory, or at the very least, a few memories that'd grown hazy with time. "Even if there was anything at all, I doubt anypony would be able to hold onto picture-perfect memories after a thousand years in a void." He was unable to help adding that on with a bit of huffiness, his tail sweeping behind him again.


Memories aside, he didn't think there were any spells missing.. His brow furrowed, and he glanced over the aura now flowing over Hou's body. Fascinating.


Mentions of Grogar caught his attention. Sombra had heard legends about him, although not what happened to Grogar. The information Hou dumped on him took him by surprise. Discord, using Grogar as a disguise? How disappointing..  The other names, aside from Cozy Glow, were familiar and he'd at least heard about the former two having made an appearance near Central Equestria. The fact that they were trying to take over Equestria was laughable. How many others have tried and failed?


Sombra snapped out of his thoughts and stared at Hou, the purple smoke streaming from his eyes growing a little more opaque. "Me?" he blurted out and moved towards the sorceress. "How could I have been summoned to a meeting I never attended?" The king asked, his tone demanding answers, an explanation. How? Could it have just been an illusion of some sort? Some trick of Discord's? He was baffled. "I deny nothing when I know I was never present!"

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Right, what can I know? It's not like I spent past thousand years on - among other things - delving into my private studies on the matter, while You and the Empire took the mother of all power-naps." Hou shoot back before flipping her mane. "And - correct me if I wrong - wouldn't any sane pony hold onto his or her memories so much harder, in an environment deprived of any kind of stimuli?" she asked smugly.


Her smirk however quickly faded when Sombra got straight up demanding. That won't do.

"I see you have wrong idea about your position here." Hou said, lowering her voice "You still think about us as equals. This...is not correct." she said, before flaring up her arcane might, pushing the stallion back few feet. The plants around them started to get corrupted by dark magic, and this time it was obvious it was not illusion. Shuren's aura was so large that he could actually hear it. It didn't required a genius to figure out that she was gorging herself on souls in past ten centuries.

"If you are so certain of that, why don't you ask Discord directly? If he's still alive after today, and if you brave enough to accept the answer that is. I explained You enough, and have no obligation say more then I want!" she announced as their surroundings got further twisted. As practitioners of dark arts, it didn't bothered either of them, but it was clear that cleansing this taint from Whitetail Woods will require lot of work.


Hou walked few steps forward with head held high. The talk was over it seemed.

"I made clear what I want. I don't want You in the Heartland. So last chance Sombra. Call, or fold." sorceress said, while already waving protective spells around herself.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

His demanding posture never changed, but an eyebrow did lift at her answer. Either he was reading into it in a certain way, or she was possibly suggesting she'd been obsessing over him for the past thousand years. Of course, she'd indicated she'd been up to other things too, that neither helped nor hurt what he thought he was hearing.


"I'm not sure about my mental state, I certainly wasn't in any sane place when I and the Crystal Empire returned together," Sombra began and his gaze twitched to a random spot on her face for a scant few seconds before meeting her gaze again; he wasn't sure how to voice anything more than that concerning his imprisonment. How he'd obsessed and raged and just spent so much of his time thinking about everything, mulling over certain memories and trying to keep himself in one piece. Certainly a few things likely still did slip through the cracks by the end of his time in that prison, when everything had collided into a restless haze of his fury and obsession and need for control that lead him to act so irrationally once he was free and physical again. A lesser pony would have been driven entirely mad in that place, if being stripped into a nonphysical state didn't outright kill them first, if it didn't do something worse to them than death.


"I just don't think you know as much about me as you think you do, we only met once before haven't we? Or have you spent that lengthy period of time with me in the forefront of your thoughts? Obsessing.. ?"


The king trailed off in the face of how quickly her playful demeanor changed to something more wicked, and the full power she wielded came to light. He could feel it pressing against him, and his magic flared and crackled with more ferocity in an attempt to push back. It'd been quite a while since he'd ever had to bring his own might to bear, and he dug deep within himself to hold his ground despite the inches he'd lost against her own, his hooves digging into the earth and making grooves where he slid. A few, jagged black crystals sprouted aimlessly around him with his effort, his monstrous teeth bared and his eyes glaring a neon green so bright it drowned out his red irises.


The sound her magic made hadn't escaped his notice, and he was astounded that magic could make any sort of sound at all. What had Hou been up to all this time to have grown so strong? Perhaps he'd dare to admit he was rather impressed by her display of power; he really needed to do more, strive for more, than the role of a wandering vagrant he'd fallen into just to see more of the world.


"You really don't want me there, do you? I'm curious about why," Sombra said as he tried to take a few steps forward, mirroring Hou's movements. "If it might be a threat to you." The umbrum king paused and eyed her. Just from the sense of her magic, she was preparing for a fight with him if he refused her. Oh how he was torn between finally seeing some action and taking the time to build up more of an understanding of Hou. He wanted to deny both options she gave him, but he couldn't figure out if there was a third he could make for himself. Sombra flashed a smirk.


"I was just going to go and peek out of curiosity.. but, I suppose I could give you some time with me, since you've thought about me so much." His phrasing made it sound as if he was twisting her reasons for keeping him here, as he absolutely refused to give into her demands or even make it sound like he was. He wasn't. "I wouldn't mind that drink."

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tongue Twister winged her way through the skies near White Tail Woods, enjoying the relative peace up in the skies, away from all the quarrelling ponies.

She knew there was an apocalyptic 'battle to end ALL battles !!' about to take place in the heartland of Equestria, but figured Harmony's Chosen - The Mane Six - would handle things.


As they always do.

"Let's see - how often do we have an apocalypse anyway ?" she mused to herself, "The return of Nightmare Moon.  The return of Discord, and the Changeling Invasion (Take 1).  Return of the Crystal Empire and King Sombra.  Tirek.  The Changeling Invasion (Take 2).  The Pony of Shadows.  The Storm King.  Cozy Glow's attempt to be the Empress of Friendship that nearly ended all Equestrian magic.  And now the Terrible Trio.  That's at least ten that I know of within my lifetime !" 

She let that sink in for a moment before shuddering.

She heard an unusual sound, then she noticed something going on the the forest below her.  The prelude to a magical battle between that dark grey stallion and the pale mare perhaps ?
She mused about what to do about it.  

She wasn't too keen in getting between battling wizards (VERY bad for one's health), but with most (if not all) of the Forces of Good gathered for battle elsewhere, the rest of Equestria was wide open !  Now would be a great time for somepony to do quite a bit of crime, since no one was watching !  Or available to stop them !

"Well, I suppose I should take a closer look..." she decided as she slowly descended,"I can always pull back and get appropriate help later if the situation goes sideways."

She noticed the trees were twisted - blighted with Dark Magic.  And those dark crystals sprouting from the earth here and there were familiar.

As was the stallion now down below.

  • Like 1
  • Hearthoof 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hou's was less then happy, hearing Sombra's...implication.

"Obsess....? What?!" sorceress eyes widened in confusion, before she squinted them in displeasure. Hard. "You flatter yourself, o Sombra, King of Nothing." white mare said with emphasis.

"You...or rather, what occurred to You was what interested me. As any sorceress worth her salt I was very interested in preventing the same from happening to me." she explained.

"Which - shall I remind you - is something You didn't do. Even after getting a warning from Me." Shuren reminded he warlock, with no small amount of self-satisfaction.


Sorceress eye-rolled when Sombra started to rise that crystals of his some things never change.

"Ooooh look at those towering black spires. Still compensating I see." she made another verbal jab, just before Sombra made a ridiculous notion about being a danger to her. Really?

"I already explained this to you. The way things are right now, I stand to gain regardless of the outcome. You being there throws that equation out of the whack." she clarified. Did he had problems with short term memory too?

"And again, you overestimate yourself Sombra. You about as dangerous for my health as a shot of strawberry schnaps." Hou said in deadpan tone. It seems the cooking metaphors and comparisons gave way to those of other kind.

"But I must admit, you remain charming despite your delusions of grandeur. You just need a biiiiiit of attitude adjustment...." sorceress mused before cracking her neck and self-levitating into the air. Oh boy. "Don't worry. I am sure you will get better after a month or two. Just in time for us to meet in a Wingapore bar. Or perhaps I should drink You here and now? Half full glass is still better then empty one.....Or should I liken you to the keg instead?" she wondered before flashing a predatory grin. So focused she was on warlock that she was oblivious to the mare above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sombra flashed Hou a smirk, the tip of one fang visible between his lips. It was enjoyable, seeing her confusion. He'd been hoping to fluster her. "I was well prepared, thanks to your tip. The one thing we both didn't expect was that little banishing trick of theirs. Light magic from two powerful, immortal alicorns against one umbrum?" An eyebrow rose and he tossed his mane in annoyance. "I can't imagine what they'd be able to do to you, or if their little Element of Harmony bearing pawns would be the ones to take you down instead. I'm at least aware of how fond they've become of letting them do all the heavy lifting."


An eyeroll was soon to follow in response to Hou's jabs about overcompensation, and her 'explanation' about how she couldn't let him go to central Equestria. He'd been hoping to get her to spill a few more details, but the sorceress was stubborn and still wouldn't give him more of the information that he wanted. The exact reasons behind why she wanted to keep him away, or what equation he would 'throw out of wack' with his mere presence. He'd just have to settle for her vague reasoning for now, much to his annoyance. If she wanted to underestimate him, then all the more power to him.


"I'm sure," Sombra replied dryly. Her food metaphors were growing stale.


His inequine red eyes followed her rise into the air, levitating through her own power. He made a soft noise in his throat, his brow furrowing. "Oh, is that what you wanted? My.. soul? And here I thought you just wanted to have a comfortable get-together in some tavern to drink together, like a couple of old acquaintances. Maybe plot a little." The king shrugged one shoulder and sighed heavily, as if disappointed. "Shame."


A shadow falling onto the fog still drifting about the area drew his eye up past Hou, his eyes squinting. He wasn't sure what he'd seen, if there was something flying up above. Somepony? Maybe it was just a bird. He couldn't really investigate just yet, not with Hou flashing her power; she took up most of his focus. Sighing softly through his nose, he returned his eyes to the sorceress, waiting for what she was planning to do.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Noticing the tensions (and power levels) rising from the verbal sparring between Sombra and the mare, Tongue Twister gained some altitude.

"When elephants battle, it is the grass that suffers most." she noted to herself, "And I am but a tiny reed compared to those two."

Then she allowed herself a smirk.  "But despite their power, unicorns are creatures of the ground.  Leads to two dimensional thinking, and thus they very rarely - if EVER - look up.  I am far safer up here among the clouds than I could ever be done there." she continued as she found a cloud, reshaped it a little, then laid down upon it, well out of direct view of anyone on the ground that cared to look.

Things were becoming just as tense within what passed for Tongue Twister's mind :


"What was she talking about Sombra throwing her equations out of whack ?" Yang asked TT and Yin, "Either Harmony's Chosen win, or they don't.  If she benefits from any outcome, how can the equations be out of whack ?  That would imply that it is possible that she WON'T benefit somehow."

Yin sighed.  "It's the Spider's Shadow.  Common amongst creatures that plot years in advance that absolutely, positively MUST be in control of every little thing.  When an unknown appears, they throw a temper tantrum because the universe isn't running according to THEIR plan.  In order for her to be happy, either the heroes win in a way that benefits her that SHE predicted, or the villains lose in a way that benefits her that SHE predicted.  She can't be happy if she didn't predict whatever good fortune falls her way."

Yang looked confused.

"It's kinda like getting angry that the winning lottery ticket you found isn't your favorite color." TT explained to Yang, who then seemed to get it.

"Uh, yeah.  Pretty much." Yin agreed with a shrug.

"I'm pretty sure STAR might want to know about this !" Yang exclaimed, "A powerful sorceress that can - if Sombra was right - drink souls !  That no one knew about until now.  This is the sort of threat to Equestria that STAR was founded to deal with !"

TT thought for a moment.  "STAR would be more effective at punishing countries that invaded, like the Storm King and his army.  Not sure how effective a stealth airship capable of  flattening cities would be against a single unicorn with unknown connections.

But you do have a point - for now, gathering intel about that mare is the most effective thing we can do."

"Well, we could go back to STAR right now and tell them what we know." Yang suggested, "It's not like anyone here would miss us."

TT sighed.  "Without evidence, why should anyone listen to me ?  I'd just sound like a paranoid nut."

"Would anyone listen to you even WITH evidence ?" Yin inquired with a raised eyebrow.

TT thought for a moment, then smiled.  "The First Path of the Way of the Nothing is 'Glorious Irrelevancy'.  Since nothing I do matters, I can do anything I want !

And what I want to do now is investigate this matter further.  Knowledge is power, and right now, we need all the power we can muster !"

With that, the three became one again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"And here's the biggest difference between us between us Sombra. When I met them first, back when the were gathering the Elements...." Hou rose further into the air, assuming a lotus position.

"...I managed to HOLD. MY. GROUND." sorceress said with emphasis as she fell from the skies, slamming her front hooves into the ground. The impact unleashed the wave of eldritch green and purple fire at the warlock - but he managed to shield with erupting wall of black crystals just before it hit him.

"...So you don't have to imagine anything Sombra. Since then I clashed with Celestia across the centuries. Time, and time, and time again!" Shuren proudly announced. After all one should judge the mare by the reputation of her enemies. "I never allowed myself to be backed into a corner. Not by Princesses, not by Kastrotians, not by a Serpent King! I always have backup plan." she stated boastfully.


But Hou didn't stop there, sending a dozen of projectiles to pin down the warlock - in a form of jade, screaming and shaped like a flaming pony skulls magical bolts.

"Come on, even fractured, I know there is more of a fight in you." Shuren almost seemed to encourage the former tyrant. "Say, are you a betting kind of pony Sombra?" she asked while waving her hoof in the air, casing yet another spell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

His eyes narrowed. There wasn't a single chance this unicorn mare could've managed to hold her ground against two alicorns. He wasn't even a pony and he'd managed to hold his own for a little while. Ultimately, they'd lost to him when the Empire disappeared with him. It was a pyrrhic victory for him, to set everything up so nicely so that they could lose what they were trying to take from him. He supposed it had something to do with the dark magic Hou picked up, absorbing souls for power. A wicked thought flashed across his mind: she had to take the souls of others just to have any measure of power.


A smirk managed to slip across his muzzle before he had to protect himself from the onslaught of eldritch fire that Hou's forehooves sent his way. The wall of black crystals managed to protect him well enough, but it likely wouldn't from Hou's next attack. Sombra started moving then, shifting into shadow as he ran around his jagged barrier to avoid the screaming skulls. The noise grated on his ears, sparking his temper.


His power focused and he released a beam of dark magic, intent on getting past the strange, jade bolts of magic to strike Hou with it. At some point, he really would have to see what he could do about her horn. Could she still perform without it?


"I wouldn't say that I am!" Sombra exclaimed, a growl lacing his voice.


He'd forgotten about investigating the shape he thought he'd seen above moments ago. Hou took all his focus.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Up on her cloud, Tongue Twister was taking notes - she'd learned a form of phonetic shorthoof writing as an aid to studying languages, and could write as fast as most ponies could speak.


And here's the biggest difference between us between us Sombra. When I met them first, back when the were gathering the Elements ....I managed to HOLD. MY. GROUND."


"?!  She first met the Royal Sisters back when they were gathering the Elements ?  That was to defeat Discord, long before Luna's one thousand year banishment !
And she held her own against both of them ?  Not good !"
TT fretted as she wrote her notes.


"...So you don't have to imagine anything Sombra. Since then I clashed with Celestia across the centuries. Time, and time, and time again!"  I never allowed myself to be backed into a corner. Not by Princesses, not by Kastrotians, not by a Serpent King! I always have backup plan."

"She's clashed with her repeatedly across the centuries ?  That means that she has been ALIVE for at least a thousand plus years !  Or goes into stasis or time jumps or something that requires an incredible amount of magical power.  Which she obviously has in abundance.

Or, she could just be making it all up to sound impressive.  After all, as Lao Tzu said : 'the supreme excellence is not to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles.  The supreme excellence is to subdue the armies of your enemies without even having to fight them.'

Many ways to do that.

And of course she's a plotter; couldn't live this long with having a Plan or twenty."

She noted how precise and steady the mare's stances and attacks were - obviously had martial arts training.  And perhaps a millenium's worth of practice to hone her skills.
She noticed the mystic projectiles the mare used - screaming pony skulls burning with jade  fire. 

"Nope.  Nothing creepy or death-oriented about THOSE !"

While the mare was taunting Sombra, Tongue Twister started a To Do List : 

0.  Find out this mare's name !  
1.  Check/find ancient records from Kastrot and of the Serpent King.  Verify any and all data.
2.  Check with Mom's older 'acquaintances'; Uncle Legbreaker ?  Verify any and all data.
3.  Check with Dad's less savory contacts; acquire new bottlecaps ?  Verify any and all data.
4.  ? Talk with Celestia or Luna (might be easier now that they're retired) ?  Verify any and all data.  Or the Pillars, since they were from all over Equestria and alive a thousand plus years ago and may have heard something.  Verify any and all data.
5.  DON'T GET KILLED from attracting too much attention with all this investigation !

After a few moments' thought, she drew an arrow from #5 to above #0 to indicate proper ranking.  Then added 'infinity plus' in front of #4, figuring that the odds that she would have the chance/ranking/permission to do that task at about one hundred fifteen quadrillion to one against.  But could perhaps find somepony else that could do it.

She was thinking of crossing out the entire list, since there was no way someone like her would be allowed to do something useful or important.


But she changed her mind.


Hope doth spring eternal in the foolish breast ...

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For all his lack of versatility, Sombra sure was precise with his arcane powers when he wanted to be. The ray of dark magic that flew past and between her own projectiles was a proof of that.

"First time for everything....DARK MIRROR!" sorceress replied to warlock before crying out, conjuring jet black reflective surface between herself and upcoming attack.

Warlock spell hit it head on, but the barrier was sloped and thus it ricocheted straight into the sky. The Dark Mirror shattered, but it was all Hou wanted from the spell - buying time for more formidable defensive measures to be complete.

With few final, dynamic gestures of her leg, sorceress finished the second spell. While there were number of capable mages that knew how to amplify their magic with words or gesture, there were few who could wave multiply spells at the same time using voice for one, and will and movement for other. Shuren was one of them.


Three protective domes appeared around the white mare, each adorned with magical circles and and arcane writings in Long Guo language.

While they couldn't last longer then three minutes tops, as a trade off, each was as durable as the fortress wall. It was enough for her to both think and proceed with her next action...


'He won't close distance. Sombra knows that he would be crushed in close quarters. Unless it would be an attempt to block my magic. With a mobility and incorporeality his shadow form gives him, landing any strike would be difficult.' she though. Moment later a wicked smirk spread on her face. '....But he won't be able to dodge anymore if he becomes exhausted. I just need to out-endure him.'


With plan ready, Hou addressed the former tyrant once more.

"I would like to make a bet with you Sombra. I bet that will make you bleed in next seven minutes." she said while bringing out a vial so far hidden somwhere in her mane. The content of said vial glinted metalically. Was that.....?

"Did you forgot that I am alchemist as well? My bag of tricks is boundless." sorceress said before uncorking the glass container and pouring it's content onto the ground. The vial itself had to be enchanted, because the amount of liquid spilled from it shattered any suspension of disbelief. Soon it formed into large sphere behind Shuren, large enough to swallow even Cerberus whole.


"One of my greatest creations, Hydrargyrum Praestantis." Hou explained with pride, before leaning back. Enchanted mercury immediately formed an intricate throne for her to sit on, which she did in most sassy way possible.

"As soft or hard as it needs to be. It's waves my shield, it's drops swords, spears and arrows. And breaking it? You ay very well break a lake or sea. Good luck." Hou said before raising her hoof, and numerous pointy shapes formed on the upper part of the sphere. Moment later, a literal storm of blades was launched at great speeds on Sombra and surrounding area...


From her elevated position, Twister could see how this assault literally shredded sizable part of the woods behind the warlock.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

His monstrous teeth were bared when Hou deflected his blast up into the sky. He glanced up long enough to watch its path, up by the lumpy shape of something he'd glimpsed earlier before his attention snapped right back to Hou and the defenses she was laying down for herself. Her offer of a bet drew a scowl.


"Why would you even bother? What is there to gain from attacking me, if I've already expressed, in a manner, that I'll avoid central Equestria if you really did mean to catch up later on?" Sombra asked, sliding to a halt on the ground as he eyed the vial and the liquid that spilled out of it soon after. He didn't have a clue what it was, only that it was strange. His brow furrowed in a confusion that was quickly wiped away by an expression of determination. He wasn't about to let some centuries-old pony witch get the upper hoof on him..


He made a mental note that Hou wasn't worth his time anymore and shifted to shadow, paying attention only to the important information Hou happily slipped him in what could almost come close to being a monologue if she ever kept going as those blades came flying out from the sphere behind her. He retreated, the weapons passing through his incorporeal body as he threw up another shield of jagged black crystals between himself and the sorceress. His ears were up, alert, listening for any sign that the assault of flying blades stopped- if they did- so that he could work on his next attempt.


His magic lifted the black crystals he used as a wall, breaking them off from where they grew. They sharpened in his magic and Sombra waited for silence to fall so he could fling them Hou's way, and batter her magic domes with their scrawls of unfamiliar symbols.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"WHOA !  Wild shot !" Tongue Twister grimaced as she pulled back as Sombra's deflected blast shot through the sky nearby.  She briefly thought about moving to another cloud, but there was no point - the odds that another randomly deflected blast would come exactly her way was very slim.

She watched the mare set up THREE force domes.  Those symbols looked like the symbols of ancient Long Guo writing, but she couldn't be sure - they were visible for only a short time, at long range, and although she'd helped compile a book on the languages of Long Guo (one of the few ways her Talent was actually useful), she hadn't memorized all six hundred fifty two or so glyphs. 

"Wait a minute - unicorn magic doesn't usually look like that !" she realized, "I've seen unicorns cast force domes lots of times, and they've never had writing !  Advanced spells use runes, but they're scribed on the floor ahead of time and then energized.

Could that be a personal quirk ?  Or a visible manifestation of her culturally influenced metathaumatical metaphoric interface routine that she uses to shape mana to her will ..."

"ThE rAbBiT wIlL bE bAcK aNy MiNuTe !" the twin voices of Yin and Yang chimed in her mind.

"Huh ?  Oh, right !  I don't have time to follow irrelevant tangents !" she thought to herself as she got her thoughts back on track.

She watched as the dark-maned mare emptied a vial of a silverly liquid on the ground.

That just kept coming, and coming, and coming !

She said it was one of her greatest alchemical creations, 'Hydrargyrum Praestantis'.  

"Hydrargyrum - the ancient name for mercury." TT realized, "And that - is a LOT of mercury !  Wow !  She's really pushed the whole 'quick' in 'quicksilver' as far as it can go !"

"Well, her cutie mark IS the symbol for mercury !" Yin stated in a tone that mixed bored and annoyed.

TT looked, and Yin was right.  So she quickly scribbled the mare's cutie mark into her notes; after all, the easiest way to identify a pony is by their Cutie Mark !  

And not many ponies had a cobra for a Cutie Mark too.

"Soooo - she's settling in for a long siege then ?" Yang inquired when she noticed the force domes, "What's the point of that ?  Or any of this ?  If she didn't want Sombra to interfere with her plans, wouldn't it have been far simpler to just answer his questions in the first place ?"

"What is the point of having incredible power if you can't slap somepony upside the head every now and again ?" Yin asked with a chuckle.

"That's not very friendly !" Yang replied.

"Not all creatures are friendly." Yin retorted, "That is sort of why I exist - to keep TT here balanced."

Yang sighed.  "And if that mare is trying to be all secretive and lurk in the shadows like a proper puppet master, why make herself known and launch such a blatant display of power in the first place ?"

"Can a display of power be blatant if there is nopony around to witness it ?" Yin answered.

Yang thought for a bit.  "Well, this fog bank and being far behind the other travellers would eliminate most witnesses.  But Sombra can most certainly witness attacks launched at him ...."
Yang's ears drooped.  "Oh.  He's not supposed to survive this battle, is he ?"

"With no witnesses, it would be like nothing at all happened here.  Her plans go through unimpeded." Yin stated, "Once the window of opportunity to stop a plan closes, the plan is almost impossible to stop."

Yang mused for a moment, before flaring her wings and her light. "We have to do something to help !"

Yin squinted her eyes and fired up her darkness.  "Like what ?  Did you SEE the power those two are throwing around ?  We could get killed entirely by accident !"

Yang increased her energies.  "Well, better to die on our feet than live on our knees !"

Yin increased her energies to push Yang's back.  "In case you haven't noticed, BOTH THOSE OPTIONS SUCK !  We need to come with, you know, AN ACTUAL PLAN !  That we can survive !"

Yang refused to let up.  "We pegasi used to be warriors !  The passion for action burns in our hearts !  In our souls !  Now, are you a pegasus, or a pigeon ?"

Yin reeled from that vile insult, before powering back.  "Scatterbrained goody goody !"

Yang shouted back "Dismal dark-hearted shadow sucker !" before going head to head with Yin.

Then spent several moments snarling insults at each other as their chi energies flared and twisted against each other in a battle that neither could win.

"Of course I'm going to help." Tongue Twister stated calmly, "I can't let someone like her wander around unnoticed and unopposed.  What if she got hold of one of Harmony's Chosen ?  Or one of the princesses ?"

"They probably have enough power to defend themselves from her." Yang stated.

"All the power in the world means nothing if you don't see the attack coming." TT stated, "That's how the changelings managed to nearly take over Equestria.  TWICE !
So I'm helping.  I just need to figure out how.  And when."

The tao twins calmed down.  "You do know that you're a pegasus, right ?" Yin stated, "No match for either of them on the arcane energies front ?"

"There are many ways to fight." TT replied, "That mare is a puppet master, right ?  Works behind the scenes.  Has plots that are wheels within wheels within wheels.  A conspiracy that is a well-oiled, finely tuned machine for world domination.

What happens to well-oiled, finely tuned machines that get just a few grains of sand in their gears ?"

Yin found the image of a complex clock exploding and tossing gears everywhere very amusing.

"Oh !  It's the Ancient Ones Protocol !" Yang piped up, "Since you can't defeat a world crushing abomination with brute force, you just interrupt the summoning ritual so it never shows up in the first place !"

"Uhhhm, sure." both Tongue Twister and Yin replied.

"It looks like Sombra got the right idea." Yang stated with a yawn as she began to fade, "Not wasting his energy on attacking."

Yin thought for a moment before fading back into TT's mindscape as well.  "She's not going to be happy about that !  All that energy spent on those force domes - wasted !"

"At least there will be evidence a battle happened." TT thought to herself as she retrieved a snack from her saddlebag after writing a few more notes, "Trees twisted from dark magics over there, and a field of shredded trees over there.  Traces of mercury all about, perhaps."

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Hmmmm, I wonder if you know how often I heard that question across the centuries....." Hou mused while conjuring more skull-projectiles in place of high pressure quicksilver launches.

"...You looked so absolutely, utterly BORED when you walked through the woods....." sorceress kept going, each world emphasized by another spellbolt.

"I felt the same way." white mare added, while flashing a rare, non-malicious smirk. Second later Sombra was gifted with another flash....this time, one of magical lightning that scorched the ground around him. At the same time, protective domes she conjured earlier shimmered briefly and finally disappeared. Sorceress pouted, cleraly displeased, but it wasn't that much of a loss. After all they did their job. As if compensate for the loss, the mare fired off another lightning strike.


Shuren didn't stayed stationary either. While she herself didn't moved an inch from her seat, the enchanted blob of mercury that formed it did - moving with surprising speed - strafing left to right and back, allowing it's owner an opportunity to rain harm from various angles.

"...And second, let's be real here Sombra. You promised you won't go there - but if our situations would be reversed, you wouldn't believe me for a moment." sorceress pointed out. At the same times she begun channeling something that looked like much more powerful spell. The pieces of crystal that he was sculpting where somewhat worrying, but could he work on then while avoiding what's coming next?


"....But perhaps you should focus on other things? Like avoiding that thing behind you for example ..." she said, and as if on command the other blob of mercury appeared behind the warlock. The loud squelch it made the was only warning conforming that it wasn't yet another bluff on Shuren's part.

While former tyrant concentrated at the sorceress, the storm of mercury blades that Hou rained earlier returned to their liquid form, reconvened and formed into the second, smaller sphere  - one that now ambushed him. It didn't move as fast as it's 'big brother' , but it's surface at the other hoof was gyrating at simply blinding speeds, crushing and ripping apart everything that was in it's path! And the path in question was homing straight at Sombra!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sombra scoffed behind his cover of crystals. His dislike for Hou was slowly growing the longer this fight went on, if he could call it one. With Hou's magic and new tricks, it seemed possible it would be more his slaughter, but that was a line of thinking he never followed. Either he'd win, or he'd be forced to flee to live another day. There was already so much going on. He hardly had any concentration to spare to even respond to the sorceress.

He peeked between two of the crystals he shifted to get a good look at Hou and her defenses, his ears splayed back against his dark, swept back mane that had taken on its trademark shadowy appearance. He was forced to quickly retreat as more of her skull-shaped bolts came flying his way, his magic holding the floating, sharpened crystals in place against their onslaught. One shattered and he grew another in its place, disturbing the soil with its emergence. The stallion twitched and moved again, advancing towards Hou, after a lightning struck too close for his liking; he imagined it might've singed him some. It was something he couldn't check while everything else was taking up his attention, like the disappearance of Hou's barriers. Another peek out through the gaps showed him as much and he tensed against another lightning strike, dancing away as something slipped through and grazed his shoulders.


Sombra shook himself and stole a few minutes to finish working the crystals he'd lifted into points, taking his cue from the next of Hou's tricks to take action: the mass of silvery liquid gathering behind him and coming his way.


He moved then, lifting and flinging the crystals towards Hou. Her maneuverability with the help of the silvery liquid made it hard to take a proper aim at her with so much putting pressure on him, but he made his efforts, guessing where she might be next until he expended what he had. Sombra was left with no defense to hide behind, for the time being, but it had gotten him moving for the sake of avoiding the tearing mass bent on ripping him apart.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"This battle is getting more intense as time goes on." Tongue Twister groused to herself as she watched the carnage below, "Is there still even any point to this ?  The 'Battle To Decide the Fate of All Equestria (take 11)' could be over by now !  And there is no way anyone can influence the results of a battle once the battle is over."

She had a few minor artifacts in her saddlebags that could answer her questions (she'd cashed in a few favors, and favored a few with cash to get them), but decided against using them just yet - all of them required intense concentration to use, and given the firepower being thrown around by Sombra and that mare, being distracted could easily lead to her becoming dead.  Or worse. 

"Why am I even here ?" she asked herself as the mare's sphere of mercury started tearing around the landscape, "There is literally NOTHING I can do to help or hinder either combatant in any significant or relevant way !  The only choice is to let things play out.

If Sombra gets the upper hoof, she'll just use one of her backup plans to escape.  Then deal with him later.

If she gets the upper hoof, Sombra can just escape and deal with her later.

Unless she has a way to prevent his escape, then tries to absorb his soul or something.  She did mention it would take months or so for him to recover from her attacks.  That suggests that the window of opportunity to interfere with her plans is not only open, but will be open for awhile yet."

She sighed again.  It was as Sun Tzu noted : one can know how to conquer without being able to do it.


Sometimes she felt the world was an Ogres and Oubliette's game, and she was a first level character when everyone else was at least a twenty seventh level multiclass.

"I really should visit my cousin Cacophony to finish that song : 'The Down and Dirty, Fetid and No Fun First Level Blues' "

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Crude. Simple.




Hou's enchanted hydrargyrum managed to intercept first crystalline projectile - forming into liquid tentacles that caught it, slowing it to a halt. But Sombra's aim stroke true, and sorceress was forced to drop her channeling - dispensing large amounts of pure aether into the air - free for either unicorn to collect and empower their magic.

Shuren meanwhile - in a split second - assumed a fighting stance, took a single forward, stomping step and shattered the crystal with one punch.

Shrapnel and obsidian dust filled the air for a moment - but when they cleared out, the white mare wasn't so white anymore. Countless trails of crimson stained her coat, and her arrogant smirk was exchanged for a frown, as she picked up small shards from her body.


"............" no quips, no mocking. Just cold, piercing stare. Worst of all, despite looking like she fought legion of angry cats, Hou seemed to be underrated.


And then, warlock could feel it. Not from Hou, but it was her magic. Not the Heartland fields around Ponyville, at where final clash was soon to commerce. Further north...Canterlot.

Apparently Shuren could feel that pull too, because it - and the aside glance - was all that was needed for her smirk to return with vengeance.


"You could feel it, don't you? Well perhaps, Discord, Luna Celestia or Tirek could too with some effort....if they wouldn't be so....distracted. Unfocused." she explained, extending her hoof and lightning her horn once more. The blood on her coat started to move, crawling towards her limb without leaving a stain. It - like her enchanted mercury - formed a steadily growing ball.

"It takes a somepony like you and me - one's attuned to their core to dark magic to feel such phenomenon at all times, and despite any distractions. Which means, right now, in all of Equestria, you're the only living thing beside me that can do so. BLOOD SUN!" sorceress suddenly cried out before hurling the sanguine sphere up and forward, where it 'exploded' , bathing the area in crimson.....


When their sight returned, former tyrant found himself in the grip of of 'tentacles' of pure red light. One's that extended from the artificial 'sun' Hou has created. Blood magic.

Worse yet, those bindings seemed to prevent him from assuming his shadowy form! Meanwhile the silvery blob formed into staircase, that unicorn mare descended to speak eye to eye with her restrained colleague.

"While it's nothing ponysonal, your very presence was a spanner in my plan. I  will admit, I had to adjust it on the fly. After all, I was convinced that Princess Sparkle and her friends had You erased during confrontation at Canterlot Castle's Throne Room. Of course You will deny that such thing had place, but in this case amount of witnesses may have say otherwise." Shuren pointed out - again, with a cruel satisfaction. Sombra's thought's had to be a mess right now!


"Regardless.....I wasn't scheduled to be present here right now. But when I saw you appear, and going straight to the place where you can interfere the most.... Well...I had to occupy you. Because - even in your sorry shape - I am the only one that could. I knew that once You sense my sorcery in Canterlot, You would hurry up to check it out. So I had to make your schedule full. With myself.....and  my talk about how much I didn't want you in Heartland." she explained.

"But now? I won. There is nothing you can do to stop my true plan. Either of you." Hou said. As if on command, another light-tackle shoot out of Blood Sun. Up. Into the clouds, wrapping itself around Tongue Twister. Pegasus ponies may have great reflexes, but how can one dodge light? The winged mare too was bound into conversation. If either of them was paying attention, the could see the Sun beating. Like a heart. It seems three appendages - one wrapped around Twister, and two trapping former tyrant - was it's limit.


"Clever little mare...but not clever enough. You thought you can remain unnoticed, but you can't hide a soul. I don't know how long you been there, but the moment you became agitated, your presence was revealed." Long Guo mare explained, while stroking Tongue cheek in a creepy manner.

"That head of yours is packed to the brim with mixed thoughts. I wonder. will this make them more organized....or opposite?" Sorceress asked, while suddenly sizing pegasus head with both front hooves. Twister could feel Hou's magic - her dark corrupting magic - seeping into her mind, body and spirit, poisoning it. One could recall what she did to the plants around her without noticing.


And then it stopped. Her magic was less intense when she was flexing' against Sombra earlier, and it couldn't be more then a second....but a cruel, horrible second regardless!

"I think it would be enough for now. After all, the fist time can be.....pretty rough for the unexpirinced. Ufufufu!" Shuren allowed herself a small giggle.

"Perhaps if we meet again, I will do some more work on You. But! Let's go back to the lecture at present...." she mused before addressing Sombra once more, or rather both of them.

"I didn't lie when  told that whatever happens in Ponyvile benefits me. It is however, only a secondary objective at best. If - by some means - neither predicted scenario happens? Oh well." Hou shrugged.

"The true jackpot, was the Canterlot Castle. Or rather, the Castle's Forbidden Library, and Celestia's hidden vault where she keeps quite....interesting collection of items. Unattended. And both opened by scrolls infused with my dark sorcery. Scrolls that I handed to my servants...." Hou leaned towards Sombra "....Another resource you desperately lack. But of course they wouldn't be good enough to stop you. Which is why I had to make you busy. Perhaps if you have turned tail, and rushed straight to Canterlot, you would have had a chance at averting my efforts. But oh, that would mean running from the fight wouldn't it? No, you too proud for that.....and I was counting on this.... You lost the moment you chose to take this fight, Sombra!" white mare said in triumphant tone.

  • Like 1
  • Surprised 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...