Through Ice and Shadow

Love and Hope once shone bright from a gleaming crystal city, only to be lost to the evils of indifference and despair. This is a tale of the leaders who built an empire based upon those virtues, and the two newly weds who are about to realize their shared destiny in reclaiming it.


7. Chapter Seven: My Heart for a Kingdom

Chapter Seven: My Heart for a Kingdom





    In the great hall of the crystal throne, nobles sat and gossiped in their not so finest clothes. It had been hours since they had been summoned here, and the wait had become intolerable. Some huffed and fanned themselves, while others rapped their hooves repeatedly in a vain attempt to show their contempt. A few farmers and other business ponies wandered in, no doubt seeking answers about the changeling attack or the crazy weather.

    A chill wind blew through the hall. The lamps and candles that lined the walls dimmed to mere flickers. Already spooked by the events of earlier, guards looked back and forth for any signs of trouble. At the base of the throne, shadows swirled and rose, the nearby light sucked into the whirling maelstrom. Just as quickly as they appeared, the shadows melted into the ground, leaving a strange pony in their place.

    “Seize him!” a guard shouted.

    In a flash, Sombra was encircled by a wall of gleaming blue armor and sharpened steel. They were trained well, but nothing could have prepared them for the being they now faced.

    “Come now,” Sombra said. “Is this how you intend to treat your new king?”

    “We serve their Royal Highness Princess Crystal and Prince Luminare. You have no power here,” a guard growled, shoving his lance closer to Sombra’s exposed neck.

    “Now there is where you are mistaken,” Sombra chuckled, his eyes flashing and horn afire.

    All at once the guards seized up. Their eyes turned green, and their lances fell from their clutches with a loud clang that echoed through the hall. A hush fell across the rest of the gathered ponies.

    “As I was about to say before I was rudely interrupted. I bring terrible news. Princess Crystal was lost during the invasion, giving everything to stop the changeling king. Poor Prince Luminare couldn’t handle the loss, and took the coward’s way out,” Sombra said with faked concern, grinning all the while.

    “You lie,” somepony shouted, others echoing and shouting the same sentiments.

    “Is that so? Then how is it that I hid away the Crystal Heart? Or that neither one has shown up to stop me by now?”

    Gasps and whispers filled the crowd, until sompony tumbled into the throne room. “The Heart! The Heart is gone!”

    He approached the crystal throne, the floor darkening with each of his steps. The throne was a once proud--if not excessive--testament to the pony who once sat upon it. Crystal would always comment on how it made her feel like a mere foal in its seat. One step more, and it would be all his.

    “I am Sombra, your new king.”

    With a heavy clunk of his armor, Sombra sat upon the crystal throne. From above, one could see a wave of shadow fanning out from the castle like a rock dropped into a still pond. From border to border, be it the castle or tiniest gem, not a single crystal was left untainted.

    Ponies froze where they stood. Their eyes turning to a sickly green. Their beautiful faceted coats cracked and shattered, leaving them dull and drab. Cries and forlorn moans could be heard across the Empire. Everypony would experience their deepest fears, reliving them time and time again until they forgot their names, their passions, what it was like to have hope. They would be left perfect, obedient slaves. Just the way he wanted.

    He may have been strong enough to blanket the Empire in despair, but the world would require something extra--something like Cosmic Spectrum. Spectrum, as Crystal and Luminare learned the day the Empire was founded, had unique qualities when exposed to powerful emotions. It would amplify them--positive or negative--and grant tremendous power to anypony who had a gemstone in their possession.  It was also normally very, very rare. That would be if the land he was searching in hadn’t been flooded with emotional magic for hundreds of years.

     Now he had the means to gather as much as he needed, and with these crystals, not even the Sun and Moon could hope to stop his shadow.  



    She gazed across the crumbling ruins of her castle. A lone white figure lied gasping in a crumpled heap of fur and feathers below her. She had won! Never again shall the sun rise, and all shall come to love her eternal night.

    “Sister, why? We were meant to rule together,” the white figure said between long, difficult breaths.

    “I am not your sister,” she spat, rearing up with her powerful legs for the final blow.



    “Celestia!” Princess Luna screamed from the top of her lungs, blowing the covers and drapes off her bed.

    Another nightmare, just like the one from yesterday, and the day before that. This time was worse than the others. The hate, the sick sense of accomplishment of seeing her broken and battered sister--it all felt so real, and it scared it her.

    With a yawn she flopped out of bed, walking to her balcony. She looked to the north, and the comforting streams of yellows, pinks, and other pastels. For the third week in a row they were absent, and now that she thought of it, Crystal had not come to see her in her dreams for just as long. A shame, she really could use a friend right about now.

    “Luna, are you alright? I heard you screaming all the way from our throne,” the warm voice of Celestia asked.

    “Tis nothing, Sister. Just a nightmare,” Luna said. She was the Moon, the night and dreams were her domains. Something was very wrong for such an occurrence to take place.

    “Luna?” Celestia said, that motherly look of concern still apparent in her eyes.

    “Sorry, sister. My mind wandered for a moment.”

    Celestia always meant well, and Luna loved her for it. They were night and day, sun and moon, together forever, sisters till the end of time. And even if they had grown distant lately, nothing could change that.

    Luna brushed up next to Celestia, letting her head rest upon the larger alicorn’s neck. “Thanks for checking on me.”

    Celestia returned a soft nuzzle. “It’s what sisters do.”

    They sat there, admiring the beauty of the land they tried to so hard to keep pristine and safe. Just two ponies enjoying a moment of sisterly love.

    “Don’t you have court to attend to?”

    “Equestria will fine without me. It’s my sister I'm worried about.”

    Luna giggled, Celestia’s sunny disposition and humor always made it hard to feel down for too long.

    “Luna,” a new voice said.

    Both princesses quickly turned to the voice, finding an ethereal alicorn mare.

    Luna did a double take. “Crystal? What are you doing here--oh no.”

    Crystal’s head drooped, and her ears folded back. “What happened to me doesn’t matter. He changed, and now I’m no longer certain if the stallion I loved is under the shadow he cloaks himself in.”

    Crystal was Love, she was eternal just like the Sun and Moon. If she really had fallen, there is no telling what would happen to the natural order of the world, or the effect it would have upon Him. Love and Hope were inseparable, entwined to the deepest parts of their beings. To have that half torn so suddenly from him, Hope would surely fall.

    “Luminare,” Celestia whispered.

    Crystal nodded. “He made the entire Crystal Empire his slave.” Tears streamed down her translucent face. “Please stop him. Please save him.”

    Luna’s demeanor became cold and sharp. She rose to her hooves, wings flaring to her sides. “We will.”

    Crystal grew pale and thin, only mere traces of her left like a mist in the wind. “Thank you.”

    “Good bye, my friend,” Luna said, her steely outer shell nearly cracking along with her voice as Crystal faded from sight.

    “I’m sorry, Luna.”

    Luna didn’t respond, the burning desire to make good on her vow was the only thing keeping her from breaking down. She stepped out on to the balcony, and with a powerful thrust of her wings, she was airborne. “Save your sympathies for the crystal ponies.”




    Ice clung to the tips of Luna’s wings, and her eyes stung from the constant cold. Still, she pressed on. An orange light appeared over the horizon- an oasis in the snowy wastes. She had always wanted to visit her friend in the icy north, but the rigors of running Equestria would never allow it. It was ironic then that her visit would be under these circumstances.

    They passed through the Empire’s protective bubble, and neared the large castle in the center. The nightmarish landscape which greeted them was not what they were expecting. Ponies trudged in great lines, shackled together with heavy iron chains. The weather was thick and hot under the oppressive orange sky. Jagged, dark purple crystals dotted the landscape, leading to the looming central spire.

    Luna felt the air around her get warmer. Waves of heat rippled off of Celestia, he eyes nearly a blinding white. “How dare he!” she said, thunder echoing in the distance.  

    She was not alone in her rage. Luna had seen a great deal of nastiness during her nightly forays, but seeing ponies reduced to beasts of burden was something else entirely.

    Golden light erupted across the crystal ponies, their bonds vanishing into dust. “Go to your homes, and do not come out till either my sister or I tell you to.”


    “Just go!” Celestia yelled, using her ear splitting royal voice.

    Ponies scattered to the winds, and took shelter in whatever house or building was nearby. The two princesses’ hoofsteps echoed off the the crystal walls of the street, the only sound in the now seemingly empty city. Above them, the formidable castle stretched into the sky, and within it, the pony they seeked.



    An angry roar ripped through the castle while clouds of dark magic billowed into the halls. On the Crystal throne sat King Sombra, his face covered in sweat. Twisting the Empire’s magic to his own dark needs was proving to be far harder than he anticipated. His slaves had worked tirelessly at all hours of the day to supply the crystals he needed.

    He needed more.

    Not just any crystal would do, he needed one of almost unheard of size and purity. Crystal’s old necklace would be perfect, if only it wasn’t lost centuries ago. A thought struck him then, a wicked, evil thought. Something he wouldn’t have contemplated even a day ago.

    The Crystal Heart.   

    It was pure, and untarnished by his shadow--a perfect focus for his magic, even if it needed the taint of love removed from it.


    What was that? Surely, not one of the slaves.


    Whoever it is, they are going to pay deeply for this interruption.


    The wide doors of the hall blew open in an explosion of blue and golden magic. Its force knocking over displays and loose furniture, and cracking a few windows. Two mares followed in its wake, not just any mares, alicorns.

    A chill rushed through Sombra. He knew others may have noticed the Heart’s disappearance, but not so soon, and definitely not ones so powerful.

    “We wish to speak with Luminare,” the one with the night sky for a mane asked.

    “That coward is gone, now leave me.”

    In a burst of light, both mares vanished, then reappeared right in front of him. The blue one brought her head down to his, looking him dead in the eyes. “We wish to speak with Luminare.”

    They knew. How they did, or why they cared was a mystery, but it threw a wrench in his plans all the same. But, he wasn’t lying. Luminare was gone, left in his shadow, too weak and cowardly to do anything.

    “My name is King Sombra. Now leave me.”

    Judging from how powerful Crystal was, taking on one alicorn would be a tremendous task, and two was out of the question. But, he had a few tricks, and most importantly of all--surprise.

    His horn blackened, and spikes sprung up from underneath the intruders. They took flight in an instant, avoiding being impaled by a good margin, but that wasn’t the point so to speak. A streak of the blackest black shot forth from his horn at lightning speed towards the flying mares, enveloping in them in utter darkness.


    Now that those annoyances were taken care of, it was time to go collect the heart and bend the world to his knees. He dusted himself off and walked away. Thats when he felt it, a power that he would awake every morning. The power of the burning Sun.

    Rays of sunlight shot out in all directions from the blackness, shattering the prison into a million pieces.

    “You have a lot to answer for,” the white mare said.

    He rushed to the pit before his throne; he needed to get the Heart, it was his only chance now. A wall of solid moonlight blocked his path, and he skidded across its surface. Slowly the magic faded, taking Sombra’s enchantments along with it. He would not be reaching the Heart that way.

    Sombra fell on his haunches. He knew he recognized that dark blue mare from somewhere. The beings before him were not just alicorns, they were the Sun and Moon. There was no way he would win this battle, but if he played his cards right, neither would they.

    Time to find out if there really is a dark side of the Moon.

    Weaving shadows around him like a cloak, Sombra vanished. He needed room for this to work, room and time. Blowing snow, and bitter cold greeted him as he winked back into existence. The Empire sat a good distance away, its glow still illuminating the drifts of snow in an orange haze.  

    “We just want to talk, Luminare,” the Moon said, popping into existence right behind him. A second pop followed, and the Sun appeared next to her.

    “You wish to talk? Let’s talk about what you told Luminare centuries ago. How you would protect Her, how she was safe. Where were you when they came to steal her heart?!

    Sombra’s eyes flashed, and his magic searched for any crack in the Moon’s mental barriers. Any regrets, any fears; there had to be something. What he found amazed even him. A dark seed of pure negativity, hidden and buried deep within the scarred depths of her mind. Now all he had to do was give that seed a little room to grow.  

    Luna faltered, looking like she had just been struck by a heavy maul, and her eyes turned green and distant.

    “Luna?” Celestia asked.

    Walls built long ago to contain the centuries of anger and resentment began to crack. Everything was her fault. The fear of the dark her ponies always showed, and how they would always avoid her--never giving a second thought to her night. Even Celestia spent less and less time with her. Now she had failed her friend, and Crystal could also be heaped among the pile of her many mistakes.


    The walls came crashing down. Every regret, every misstep, came rolling back to the forefront of her mind. The years of loneliness, the centuries of neglect toppled over and buried her. The resentment she had for Celestia’s Sun, once bottled up and corked, flowed forth like a raging river.

    You are weak, little Moon. Take my power, destroy the Sun. Let all bask in our glorious night!

    The Moon cast her hooves to her head, shaking it violently. “Silence you foul beast! I alone rule the night!”

    “What did you do to her!?” the Sun said, snow melting all around her.

    Sombra flashed a wicked grin. “I only freed her mind.”

    A ray of pure sunlight streaked towards him, hitting the ground just inches away. He dove to the side, avoiding the miniature steam explosion of melted snow and vaporized earth. The Sun rushed to the Moon’s side, the break he was hoping for. With his magic gone, the Moon returned to her senses.

    “Luna, are you all right?” the Sun asked, helping the Moon off the ground.

    “I will be fine,” the Moon said, a tinge of contempt in her voice.

    Somehow, the air grew even colder, and the light faded and dimmed around them.

    “Such is the folly of love. Too concerned about one another to pay attention to what really matters,” Sombra said, forcing both mares to look his way.

    A giant ball of dark magic hovered from the tip of his horn. Shadowy faces could be seen its roiling surface, and little tangles of magic shot out from every side.  

    “The Crystal Empire is mine!”

    A lance of shadow streaked out from the ball towards the Sun and Moon. They dodged it easily enough, he did give them ample warning after all. A fact that should have told them something wasn’t right.

    The Sun laughed. “All that bravado, and you missed?”

    “I wasn’t aiming for you.”

    The Sun and Moon paused for a second, then looked behind them.

    The beam was heading straight for the Empire, and there was nothing they could do. It impacted on the outer shield, and soon the Empire was covered in the his dark magic. As the last part of the beam faded, the it collapsed to the size of a marble and vanished from sight.

    The sound of a large explosion rocked the trio of ponies. A blast of wind almost blew them away trying to fill the sudden vacuum. The wind dissipated, and they looked to the site of Empire. It was gone, only barren crystal and bedrock remained.  

    “You- you monster,” the Moon whispered.

    “They are fine, if you were wondering. I just put them in a place for safe keeping.”

    “Bring them back,” the Sun said, slamming a hoof down in a shower of sparks.

    Sombra smiled. “Now why would I do that?”

    “He was right, Luna. Luminare is gone.”

    “I’m so sorry, Crystal,” Luna said, hanging her head low.

    “King Sombra. You are beyond redemption, beyond forgiveness. Let the icy depths of this land be your prison until you find it in your heart to right your wrongs. So sayeth the Day!”

    “And so sayeth the Night!”

    Together they rose above the ground, and together they combined their power. Twin beams of day and night hurtled towards Sombra, enveloping him.

    “When Hope and Love become one, the Empire will return, and along with it, so shall I.”

    Numbness overtook him, his physical body stripped away until only his essence remained. In a ferocious roar, an entire glacier opened up, swallowing his shadowy form whole.

    Celestia and Luna collapsed into the snow--spent and exhausted from their display.

    “Do you believe Love and Hope can return after such tragedy?” Luna asked, still huffing and puffing.

    “I’m afraid only time will tell.”

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