The King & Shy

After a terrible storm sweeps through the Everfree, Fluttershy finds the weakened but still powerful King Sombra on her doorstep. Unable to resist his dark magic, she finds herself trapped by a spell that forces her to aid him, protect him, and heal him until he is strong once more, all while keeping his revival a secret from her friends. Unwilling to risk bringing her friends into the situation and endanger them, Fluttershy decides on a riskier tactic
If she could reform Discord, why not the Tyrant of the Crystal Empire. After all, with his spell keeping her from betraying his presence, it might be her only hope. Can she kill the Dark King with Kindness? Or will the ancient sorcerer once more stretch his shadow across Equestria?
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/328886/the-king-shy

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14. Beyond the Wall of Sleep

The mist bloomed and flowed as the delicious strength of dark magic crashed over Sombra. The pain faded to a dull burn, the lethargy was replaced by vigor and strength. Sombra lit his horn and took a deep breath of the magic flowing off of Fluttershy just like the Wendigos all those centuries ago, Sombra could practically taste the power. It flowed through his crippled body and washed away the weakness that had taken up residence in him. A week ago he would have been thrilled with such a turn of events. One entrusted to hold a fragment of an ancient artifact of light magic had succumbed to a powerful darkness. Not only did it practically eliminate one of the only things capable of harming him, the end result was restoring him to his old strength faster than he could have imagined.

Yes, he should have been excited.

Instead all he felt was terror.

“Fluttershy!” Sombra cried out as the buttercream Pegasus staggered in place, her eyes blazing with an unwholesome green and red light. Dark mists flowed from her eyes. “Fluttershy I need you to concentrate!”

“I-I can’t... “ Fluttershy’s face twisted into a grinning rictus. “It feels incredible, your Majesty. The strength. The power. I didn’t know… how could anypony give up this feeling?”

“Because it comes with the price of madness, my dear,” Sombra answered angrily, stalking closer to his… what? Servant? No, she was much more than that. “You cannot permit the magic to poison you. It will destroy everything starting with your home and ending with you, assuming somepony else doesn’t deal with you first.”

“But… but you’ll protect me right?” Fluttershy looked up shakily from where she stood in front of her cottage. “You’ll keep me… safe?”

Sombra was beginning to deeply regret lifting the geas from Fluttershy’s mind. If it were still in place he would be able to subdue her easily. Now, though, her mind was too chaotic to risk trying to implant a new mnemonic.

“Yes, I will,” Sombra answered truthfully. “Right up until the moment you destroy me in a fit of dark-magic-induced madness. And it will happen. You’ve grown far, far too powerful too quickly.”

For the first time since the darkness claimed her Sombra saw Fluttershy’s face spasm into a semblance of normality. It lasted only a second but it was clear she was fighting it. After several seconds she grimaced, her brow furrowing as if she were in great pain. “What do I do… your Majesty?

“You need to let me in,” Sombra’s voice took on an echoing, dreamlike quality. “There is a fragment of powerful, ancient magic within you. It chose you to bear it because of the great kindness within your heart. That same kindness has now driven you to a place of hatred, though. It’s hemorrhaging power into you now because it’s confused. Dark and light are trying to coexist and the catalyzation is creating surges of chaotic power.”

“H-how do I... “ Fluttershy croaked, her voice was strained and thready. “Please… help me…”

Approaching Fluttershy was like striding through a maelstrom. The power was tearing at Sombra’s body and soul alike. It whispered and coveted like always, but unlike Fluttershy Sombra was no novice. He had submerged himself in the shadows for centuries. True, he had been protected by his creation for most of that but sheer familiarity with the power that now surrounded him inured him to its worst effects. No, he had long ago mastered his emotions enough to wield his magic in relative safety so long as he didn’t use anything too strong for too long. Fluttershy had no such benefit, though, and the overflow of dark magic was eating away at her psyche. If he didn’t stop the surges soon there would likely be little more than a paranoid, schizophrenic mess left behind.

“I am going to enter your mind,” Sombra’s voice boomed sonorously from within the dark storm of power that was beginning to black out the Everfree verge they stood near. “You will feel a pressure at the edge of your consciousness; do not resist it. Do you understand, my dear?”

Fluttershy cried out in pain as another wave of darkness tore out from her body. Her breath came in short, ragged gasps, but between them she managed to respond. “A-as you s-say, your Majesty.”

Lighting his horn, Sombra mused on the fact that, for the first time since he was awake he had absolutely no lack of power and his very first action would be to try and seal off that wellspring that was delivering it to him.

What delightful irony, Sombra chuckled inwardly. Fate truly makes fools of us all.

Finally, Sombra reached Fluttershy. The pressure was impossibly powerful. It was almost all Sombra could do to resist drinking in the pure, unfiltered darkness around him. That would be the height of idiocy though. He was powerful, true, but that amount of dark magic would drive anyone to insanity. Leaning forward, he touched his curved horn to Fluttershy’s forehead. He could feel her trembling.

“Everything will be alright,” Sombra whispered softly, “I promise.”

With some satisfaction, he felt Fluttershy nod. A burst of crimson light followed and he felt a sense of spinning vertigo as he plunged headlong into the storm surrounding her mind.

 

 

However bad it had been on the outside, the maelstrom of darkness was an order of magnitude worse on the inside. Sombra scowled as his astral form was torn at by ravenous, clawed winds. Lemures; the semi-conscious spiritual dregs of darkness, with their spiteful claws and envious teeth, knew nothing but mindless hunger. They were not a danger so much as an annoyance, though. The thought that there were some sorcerers out there desperate enough to imbue the insane little devils into mounds of alchemically grown flesh as a source of cannon fodder disgusted Sombra.

No, it was the larger predators that Sombra was concerned with. The shadowy leviathans that drifted on the tides of darkness. Sentient storms of negative emotions; hatred, rage, terror, despair. If he was not quick then Fluttershy would attract one of those horrors to her and it would devour her mind. Spreading ephemeral wings shaped like the leathery appendages of a dragon, Sombra tore through the morass of Lemures. He could feel Fluttershy’s mind at the center of the storm. A beacon of light in the shadow. Unfortunately, Sombra knew that if he could sense it then everything else within reach would be able to as well.

Heedless of the damage he knew he was inflicting on himself, Sombra tore through the stormwalls surrounding Fluttershy’s soul. He winced at the razor-edged pain that lanced through him. He couldn’t afford to let it weaken him though and, with an effort of will, he shunted the damage to his physical form. Sombra knew he was going to be in terrible condition when he emerged from this little venture but letting the little blighters carve away at his astral form would slow him down. Haste was the order of the day and that meant he would just have to weather the pain.

Maybe not just weather it, actually, Sombra thought suddenly. I haven’t been strong enough to do this until now but…

As he cut through the stormwall Sombra concentrated, seeking out that coiling pool of pure energy that was his magic; the wellspring from which all of his power flowed. Reaching towards it, he called out to the construct that he knew was still submerged within.

Vae Victus, your services are required, Sombras mind thundered. Without hesitation the pool seemed to explode from within. In front of him a crimson coil of energy bled out of a cut in the air and slowly congealed into the shape of a brutal warhammer; Vae Victus, Suffering of the Conquered. Sombra’s personal weapon and the tool with which he had forged an Empire and broken a house of nobles thousands of years old. It was a weapon that, in his own time, had been nearly as feared as he himself. This was merely a projection of it, of course. The true weapon still laid at rest in a hidden place in the Empire. He could feel the weapons power and its echo in the Real. It had not yet been found. Not that he was surprised. It was in a place that nopony would expect to find something of such import.

Seizing the incarnated artifact with his mind, Sombra gave it a hard swing in front of him. He felt the sadistic spirits of the storm shatter under his malicious blow. They were no match for him, especially now. The winds split before him as if they were a mere breeze. He felt Fluttershy’s mind much more clearly now. Nothing would stand in his way.

He would reach his mare.

 

++

 

Fluttershy shivered in the cold, empty dark. She was surrounded by howling. Endless howling. That wasn’t the worst part, though. Through the wind and storm Fluttershy could hear the chattering voices of the ones who had betrayed her.

Twilight, pedantic and condescending. So sure that she knew every stupid answer. No matter that it was one of her best friends asking for her trust. No, that wasn’t good enough. She was a Princess now. She knew what was best and Celestia help anyone who thinks otherwise. So the lavender pinhead could put an Ursa Minor to sleep? Good for her. Too bad Major’s are practically immune to magic. Its cave wasn’t so far away either...

Then there was Rarity. Conniving and insincere Rarity with that fake accent of hers. Anyone who knew her parents knew she was from Whinnyapolis. Siding against her and Sombra for… what? Because she had a few bad dreams? Ha, she should ‘relocate’ a nest of Tartarus Wasps and make a few of those bad dreams come true.

And Applejack. Dumb, dirt-grubbing, down-home-twanging Applejack. Every problem had some contrived countryism to go along with it. Snakes and scales. Snakes and scales. She’d show Applejack snakes and scales. Maybe she’d drop a basilisk on the orange brute’s barn. She knew where one slept deep in the Everfree. Let’s see what she thought of snakes and scales when her whole family was being digested ali-

“NO!” Fluttershy cried out, the thoughts were digging into her mind like venomous barbs. She tried to ignore the horrible thoughts that followed every voice but nothing seemed to help. “Please stop! I don’t want to hurt them like that! I never wanted anything like that!”

ArE yOu So CeRtAiN, sWeEtLiNg?

A slithering, whisper like jagged razors on concrete scratched into her mind. Fluttershy curled in on herself and screamed, trying to drown out its voice with her own. It didn’t help.

We CaN fEeL yOuR rAgE. wE cAn FeEl YoUr HATRED.

The voice was so close to her now. At least… it felt like it was. Was it in her mind? Fluttershy opened her eyes. She was staring into a mirror, a perfect facsimile of her stared back. Right? It was her, right? No… there was something wrong. Her eyes were blue right? Not black. Not dripping tears of pitch and filled with pinpricks of red light. And her teeth, weren’t they straighter than that? Weren’t they the rounded teeth of an herbivore? She certainly didn’t recall them being razor thin and knife-like, dripping some viscous red-

“NO!” Fluttershy turned and bucked at the mirror.

She felt the glass shatter but the image was burned into her mind. All around her Fluttershy saw that horrible thing that wore her skin. She was surrounded. It was moving towards her with unpleasant, hitching strides like its bones didn’t fit right under the flesh and muscles it had pulled on like a cheap suit.

Do NoT fEaR uS. fOr We ArE rElEaSe.

FrOm PaIn.

FrOm SuFfErInG.

“You are a release from sanity and nothing more,” a deep voice tore through the thick, mental miasma that was closing in on Fluttershy as four thundering hoofbeats slammed down around her. “Begone, daemon, and do not let me catch you taunting this one again or I shall be far less forgiving.”

The figure standing over her was a vision of blue and white flames caged in the form of a massive, and familiar, stallion. His curved horn shone like a lantern in the dark as burning, draconic wings curled protectively around her. With a derisive snort Sombra brandished a tremendous and ornate warhammer made of arterial red light. The apparition that had been tormenting Fluttershy staggered back and let out a hiss like a thousand cockroaches. Sombra didn’t even flinch. Moving like lightning, he brought his hammer thundering into the daemon’s side sending it flying away into the storm with a sickening, visceral crunch of bone and organs. Its shriek was drowned out by the howl of its broken body breaching the stormwall.

“S-Sombra?” Fluttershy staggered to her feet, staring at the winged stallion in disbelief. “You’re not… not dead?”

He wore a sad expression. “No, my dear, I’m afraid not. The reason for that is as unfortunate as it is disturbing but that can wait. We need to leave this place quickly before another more dangerous entity decides to investigate this little maelstrom and-”

Whatever Sombra was about to say next, it didn’t matter. For the first time Fluttershy did not give one fluffy bunny tail about her actions as she practically tackled him to the ground. Before she could think it through she pressed her lips to his, gripping him tightly with her hooves as if he might vanish at any moment. It only took Sombra a second to recover and when he did he wrapped himself around her, wings and all, and held her close.

“I’m so glad! So, so glad!” Fluttershy cried out the moment she pulled away from him. She clung to him, shaking and crying as all the tension and fear that had riddled her from the moment she had woken up to find him on death’s door flooded out of her on a wave of tears. “I didn’t want to lose you! I’m so sorry I failed you! I tried! I promise I tried!”

Sombra silenced her another kiss and Fluttershy felt her cheeks warm delightfully at his touch. “I know you did,” Sombra said softly as they parted. “Their decision was neither your fault nor was it entirely wrong.” He lifted a hoof to cut off the incoming tirade. “Your Princess made a judgment call based on the safety of her ponies; that is the burden of a ruler.”

“She sentenced you to die,” Fluttershy almost broke down again at that word. “Twilight was just going to… to let you…”

“I will debate this for as long as you want another day, but I’m afraid we don’t have time to dally at the moment, my dear,” Sombra cut her off, but his eyes were soft with concern all the same. “We need to get out here quickly.

“W-where are we?” Fluttershy asked timidly, glancing around the at the featureless island of calm in the darkness. “I’ve never imagined a place so… awful.”

Sombra let out a weary breath. “There are too many names and none of them would mean a thing to you. Sufficed to say we have passed well beyond the walls of sleep to reach this place and are in great danger. You witnessed one of the more average denizens just now, but your soul is like a bonfire to the hungry creatures that dwell here and it will draw stronger and more terrible foes.”

“What happened to me?” Fluttershy met Sombra’s gaze and saw the reluctance there. “Sombra, my King, please… answer me.”

“You told me, not long ago, that you bore the Element of Kindness, yes?” Sombra stated more than asked. “You still hold the essence of that ancient power inside you, but nothing is ever as simple as light and dark. Kindness, Loyalty, Honesty; there is nothing that cannot be turned dark. When your friends forced you into a position that compromised your Kindness, your Elemental nature turned on itself. From what you told me before… this, you were put into a position where you had to choose between abandoning somepony in need and turning against your friends outright. There was no right answer so far as your Kindness was concerned.”

“S-so… my Element of Harmony turned me… dark?” Fluttershy asked in disbelief. That flew in the face of everything she had ever been taught about Harmony. There wasn’t supposed to be a dark side to be kind and loyal and… and any of it!

Sombra shrugged. “In part, I suppose. I do not pretend to know the truth of the matter. These artifacts are beyond even my ken. They were ancient before the first foundations were laid for the Crystal Palace. It would take months of research, I suspect, before I could posit a theory that was more than guesswork.”

“I see,” Fluttershy answered softly. Taking a deep breath she did her best to push the panic away. Sombra was right, now wasn’t the time to deal with it and there was nothing to do about it at the moment any way. Still… it wasn’t all bad. “But… you’re going to be okay?”

That deep, baritone chuckle that Fluttershy had grown to love answered as Sombra nodded. “Yes, for the moment I am going to be fine. I have restored a great deal of my magic. So long as I do not expend too much of it I will have years, maybe decades, to determine a replacement source for my body to sustain itself on. Or, at the very least, I may be able to reverse the process.”

Fluttershy let out a tiny ‘yay’ and wrapped herself around Sombra’s wide, barrel chest. It was odd since his current form lacked his dark fur, but it was still Sombra. “Whatever happened made it so that you’re not going to die, so I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Sombra pulled Fluttershy close and she giggled as she felt him nuzzle into her soft, pink mane. “Let us remove ourselves from this place, then, my dear. Although I suspect we’re far from out of the woods yet. Your display will have drawn a lot of attention since you’re releasing surges of dark magic like a geyser at the moment.”

“Where can we go?” Fluttershy asked, burying herself in Sombra’s chest as the storm twisted around her. “My… the others won’t just let you take me away. Not without trying to stop you. I’m sure they’ll think you’re controlling me or that you corrupted me.”

There was a small rumble from Sombra’s chest as he chuckled. “If anything, my dear, I fear it is you who corrupted me. Your little Council seems to deeply underestimate your persuasive capabilities, it seems.”

A weak laugh escaped Fluttershy’s lips. “They’ll try to take you away, won’t they?”

Sombra nodded. “They will, but they will also fail. Not all of my hideaways in the Equestrian mainland have been destroyed, there are still a few places for us to go.”

Fluttershy smiled, pressing herself against her stallion’s chest. “I’ll go where you go.”

“If I may say; that seems like rather a crap idea, my dear,” Sombra responded wryly.

Fluttershy just quirked an eyebrow up and smiled back at him in a surprisingly sarcastic manner that reminded Sombra of Rainbow Dash more than anything. “Well, according to certain farmponies, I have crap taste in stallions. So I suppose I’ll have to live with that, hm?”

Sombra stared in amusement, and even Fluttershy felt a little self-conscious at the casual cynicism she had heard in her own voice. A part of her wondered if that was the dark magic talking. If it had eroded away some of her timidity in speaking her mind.

That may not be such a bad thing, Fluttershy mused and, for once, her mind was silent on the matter. Turning towards the stormwall she glanced over at Sombra, who had followed her gaze with his own, and nodded. Time to confront my friends and whatever else is out there. But one thing is for certain at least… Fluttershy leaned against Sombra for a moment, reveling in the comfort of his presence, ...I’ve made my choice.

 
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