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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3. In Service

Fluttershy slumped against her door, letting the cool breeze of the early evening wash over her. After Sombra had fallen asleep she had gone out to perform her usual duties, tending to the animals, feeding them, caring for the sick and injured. The sense of normality it gave her was a relief. She was able to pretend, for a little while, that she did not have a hangpony’s noose around her neck every moment of the day. Of course, Fluttershy had ensured there were several small sandwiches by Sombra’s bedside and a pitcher of cold water in case he woke up before she came back.  Fortunately, Angel Bunny had been out of doors when Sombra had arrived, off playing with his bunny friends. Somehow, she had managed to convince him that she was caring for a sick pony in the house and that he should probably stay outside so as not to disturb him. This much was true, Angel would have smelled a lie a mile away, but she also feared what Sombra might do to her little Angel Bunny. She knew the little dear could be a teensy bit abrasive and, considering who Sombra was, Fluttershy didn’t want to chance him lashing out at the little one.

Walking back into her house, her chores finished, the animals fed and tended to, Fluttershy crawled up onto the couch and stared at the stallion who was sleeping in the middle of her living room. She had a guest bedroom although it wasn’t exactly fit for royalty. The bed certainly wouldn’t fit Sombra’s physique. Fluttershy counted herself lucky she had the spare mattress still. She hadn’t had a bed large enough for it since she moved to Ponyville and, living alone, she hadn’t ever had a need for it. Picking up one of the sandwiches she had laid out, Fluttershy munched on it softly as she stood up and moved to the guest room, moving quietly by rote so as not to disturb her ‘guest’. With a flick of her wing she pushed the door to the room open. It was a little dusty, but the floor space was large enough to accommodate a bigger bed. She would probably have to remove the large end table but the dresser could stay if she moved it to the north wall. On a whim, Fluttershy went to the closet and pulled out a duster. some lemon-scented spray, and began tidying up the room.

 

 

In the darkness Sombra dreamed. This was his realm and he reveled in it. The shadows coiled around his aetheric form welcoming him back to his true kingdom. He had not been in this place between the walls of sleep for well over a thousand years. Not since his banishment along with the Crystal Empire. It felt good to be back in a place unhindered by flesh. His spirit soared amongst the liquid emotion of his world. Here he was a master of his art and… Something was missing. The notion struck Sombra like a hammer on a brass bell. Gathering power around him he propelled his thoughtform through the roiling sea of emotion until he reached his destination.

The Gate of Horn.

It was bent and torn as if something had shredded through it. A cold weight formed in Sombra’s chest. On the one hoof, clearly this happened some time ago so the fact that the world was still spinning meant that someone must have solved this little issue. On the other, the Gate was still shattered, meaning that which dwelt beyond it still roamed free in some way. Sombra swam up to the gate and examined the markings, they were old. Very old. Of course, time didn’t always mean the same thing in this realm as it did in the waking world. But the Gate of Horn was an island of calm in the torment that surrounded it, so the passage of time could be mostly relied upon. How soon after his banishment did this happen? And how? Who else… No, that wasn’t even a question. Only one entity knew their way around this place like he did. Well, no matter. this wasn’t his problem any longer. Still, it would do to question the mouse. Fluttershy, that was her name. Surely she would have heard of something of this magnitude, be it in a history book or otherwise.

 

 

The process of waking was fitful and indelicate. Sombra’s time in the wells of madness had blunted his once faultless technique. He counted through the Enumerations of Dawn, slowly anchoring his mind and soul back into his slumbering form. He felt reinvigorated by the journey but still there was much to do yet and his body was far from healed. With a final utterance he felt his body slide back into sync with his mind and his eyes snapped open. It was well into evening and he could hear the faint, lovely humming of his newest servant coming from somewhere down the hall of her cottage. Glancing over, Sombra saw that she had placed a bowl of soup and plate with bread, relatively recently by the smell of both, near him, alongside another pot of that wonderful tea. Either her timing was impeccable or she had continually renewed the food near him in case he awoke. Either one spoke well of her instincts.

Suddenly ravenous, Sombra seized the bowl and began to drink down the rich vegetable broth, Seizing the bread, he tore off large chunks of it, letting his sharp teeth shred the soft crust. Peasant fare for certain, but no less delicious. Idly, Sombra wondered how much of that was due to his long entrapment and how much due to his host’s culinary talents. A measure of both he surmised.

“Oh, you’re awake, I was hoping you would wake up soon.” Fluttershy drifted into the room silently, it seemed to Sombra that her hooves barely touched the ground. She wore a small apron that had a few smears of dust on it, her own appearance was, as usual, flawless. “Your room is almost ready, your Majesty.”

Sombra glanced down the hall and saw warm light spilling from an open door further in that he had not noticed before. “I assume it’s suitable?” At this point he had begun to simply expect her compliance as well as excellence of behaviour.

“It is the best I could provide, but it has room for your… immensity. It also has a window with a nice view of the forest. I set new drapes and moved the furniture about to accommodate the mattress, first thing tomorrow I’ll go into town and see about a new bed frame.” Fluttershy rattled off each nuance as if she had been serving royalty her entire life. Sombra could find no fault in her technique, so he simply nodded and lifted himself from the mattress.

Fluttershy moved with grace to seize the mattress and move it to the backdoor for a quick airing out before dragging it back to the guest room she had apparently spent the day preparing. Sombra found himself amused by watching the dainty pegasus mare move the large, unwieldy slab of fabric and down around her house with little difficulty. Her teeth had found small grips on the edges of the mattress that allowed her purchase, while what could only have been a great deal of practice allowed her to handle the weight with ease, allowing it to mostly move itself by guiding its momentum. All the while she avoided the various pieces of furniture and decorative crockery that were set about her home.

Finally, Fluttershy emerged from the room, having apparently fixed the mattress in an acceptable position. Stopping in front of Sombra she performed a flawless bow and curtsy, fluttering her wings out slightly as she did.

“The room is fully prepared to the best of my abilities, your Majesty,” Fluttershy spoke softly, her gaze fixed somewhere around his fetlocks. “There is a shop in town where I acquire a bedframe, but for now I’m afraid I have only the mattress to offer you again as my own bed would be far too small and uncomfortable for a stallion of your heroic proportion.”

This little mare might be the most inoffensive creature I’ve ever encountered, Sombra mused as he favored his newest servant with a faint nod. For once I can hardly even imagine myself becoming wroth with her.

“If I may ask, your Majesty…” Fluttershy began before trailing off. Sombra gave another small nod of assent. “I’m certain the rest of Ponyville will think it’s strange for me to be buying  a large bed. Everyone knows I live out here alone, after all, and even Ponyville’s few visitors rarely come near the Everfree.”

“I have already taken that into consideration, little mouse,” Sombra replied thoughtfully as he moved to inspect his new chambers. They were tastefully appointed and had the scent of a recent and thorough cleaning. Small, by his usual standards but acceptable. “If asked you will say you have a guest staying with you, do try and avoid too much conversation but if pressed you may tell them I am a crystal pony researcher by the name of Coal Axiom, here to study the indigenous wildlife of the Everfree.”

“I… see,” Fluttershy’s next words came out carefully. “If I’m not being too bold, may I ask why a researcher? Everypony in this area knows how dangerous the forest is.”

Sombra turned her head to fix one dark eye onto Fluttershy and gave her a fanged grin. “Very simple, in case I require an alibi, dear mouse.” For a moment Sombra considered leaving it at that but, for some reason, felt no need to hide his intentions. After all, it wasn’t as though she could betray him anyway, and his long isolation had left him feeling unusually loquacious. “I stored a large amount of material goods in a small, hidden shrine in the Everfree. Not even the Royal Pony Sisters knew of it. After all, what kind of madpony would hide in the very shadow of their own castle?”

Fluttershy stifled a gasp, instead opting to just nod along.

“I don’t want anypony asking too many questions about a strange dark stallion seen going into and out of this forest, after all,” Sombra continued as he trotted back into the living room and then out the back door with Fluttershy trailing behind him. “If asked, you may furnish the answers I have given you, Now, mouse, I am feeling a little stronger, so I am going out to retrieve some of my belongings. Ensure there is a suitable repast for me when I return.”

Sombra spoke without turning his head to Fluttershy. There was, however, a dark flash from his horn that caused the young pegasus to flinch in alarm momentarily. Fluttershy glanced around in confusion when no dark shadows erupted from the earth to devour her. Then she saw the small sack that had appeared between her forelegs.

“I have provided you a small stipend to refill your pantry according to my needs,” Sombra remarked as he evaluated the forest with a critical eye. “Do not disappoint me, mouse.”

Then he was gone. Unlike Twilight, Sombra’s teleportation wasn’t accompanied by a flash of light or any noise. He was simply there one moment and then gone the next, only the faint glimmer of dark energy remained for a few brief seconds.

 

++

 

Somehow, Fluttershy thought to herself as she stared at the space Sombra had been occupying a moment before, the quiet way he vanishes like that is actually scarier than a loud sound. He could teleport into a dark room and no one would notice. He could teleport right into my bedroom while I’m asleep and-

Fluttershy brain pulled a ‘full stop’ and she shook her head violently to banish the mental images that had accompanied that thought. Blushing was exactly the wrong reaction to that notion. Fear, yes, gut-wrenching terror even. Certainly not… whatever that was. More and more Fluttershy was beginning to suspect that Sombra’s geasa had done more to her mind than he was telling her.

Yes, he’s handsome, she grudgingly admitted to herself, but he’s also keeping us hostage through evil magic and forcing us to lie to our friends and wait on him fetlock and hoof.

Not that the service part felt particularly bad. In fact, it almost scared Fluttershy how easily she slipped into the role. She had learned the mindset of a career servant from birth by watching her father and mother, so that was part of it, but the ease with which she accepted his orders… a part of her knew that she enjoyed being useful to others, and that meant she enjoyed being useful to him. Annoyingly, the thought didn’t sicken her as much as she felt like it ought to. There was nothing wrong with a life of service, though. Her whole family lived to serve, after all.

Fluttershy rolled her eyes as the she thought about her family. Father would be so proud that you ended up in the family business after all. He and mother had supported her choice of professions of course, but there was no hiding the slight disappointment in their faces.

Gathering up her wicker shopping basket and throwing on a scarf, Fluttershy started the leisurely walk into town. It was still a couple of hours until supper and she wasn’t planning anything extravagant. A nice tossed salad and chilled artichoke soup sounded quite good to her. The walk itself was uneventful, and the town of Ponyville was just beginning to fade into the quiet evening state of most small villages. Mentally mapping out where the various vendors would be at this time of day, Fluttershy took a quick left into the market square towards one of the larger stalls to pick up some fresh romaine. Hopefully Sombra wouldn’t mind, romaine was her favorite and he hadn’t mentioned any dietary preferences. Fluttershy was hoofing through the heads of lettuce distractedly when a voice startled her out of her reverie.

“You alright there, sugarcube?” Applejack asked, her brow was furrowed slightly as she backed up a step. “Ah called out to ya but you looked mighty distracted.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “I’m sorry, I’ve been… busy. How was business today?”

Applejack grinned, the one thing guaranteed to distract Applejack was talking shop. “Sold out! Good thing harvest is comin’ up here pretty soon. Rainbow is already countin’ down the days to Cider season.”

“No change there then,” Fluttershy giggled lightly, “I’m glad things are going well, though.”

“Mhm, say Flutters, that was a doozy of a storm last night by the by,” Applejack shot a scowl in the direction of the Everfree, “Ah admit ah was a little worried about you. Ah know ya probably weather storms like that more often than most ponies, but ah just wanted ya to know ah’m right glad you’re okay. Was actually plannin’ on stoppin’ by after ah closed up shop.”

A shot of panic lanced through Fluttershy’s mind but she kept her face even with some effort. “Oh, that’s very nice of you, but I’m fine. It just scared some of the littler animals and knocked down some birdfeeders. Everything is fine.”

Why did it have to be Applejack that she ran into? She loved her friend but it was almost as hard to lie to her as it was for Applejack to lie to, well, anyone. The eldest Apple sister had a notoriously bad poker face. Fluttershy desperately wanted to tell Applejack everything right then and there, but she could feel pounding presence of the geasa even as the notion crossed her mind. If she tried to warn Applejack not only would she not get the words out but she didn’t want to think about what state Sombra’s spell would leave her in.

Applejack gave Fluttershy an odd look and for a second Fluttershy both hoped and dreaded that she her dishonesty had been discovered. Then Applejack shrugged and nodded. “Yeah, the orchard nearest the forest got hit pretty hard, but nothin’ we can’t recover from. Good to hear everything’s alright though, sugarcube. I’ll let the rest of the girls know.”

“O-okay,” Fluttershy waved nervously as Applejack meandered back to her half-dismantled stall. As soon as she out of earshot Fluttershy scrunched up her muzzle and snorted. “Oh shoot. Well, back to Plan A: try and reform the Mad King Sombra with the Magic of Friendship… and chilled artichoke soup.”

Turning back around, Fluttershy picked out some choice vegetables and a few tomatoes to go into the salad. She had most of the ingredients for the soup in her icebox and panty but, as Sombra had said, she needed to stock up and refill. She was cooking for two now, after all. BY the time she finished she knew she was bordering on running late. The conversation with Applejack had taken up a little more time than she had expected. Forgoing her usual slow trot, Fluttershy carefully cantered back to her cottage and slipped inside. It was, thankfully, empty. She still had about half an hour before supper was served so she put whatever she knew she wouldn’t use away and pull out the ingredients for the soup. It would need time to chill so she wanted to make it first. Hopefully Sombra didn’t hate artichoke.

 
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