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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2. The King's Geas

It was nearly midnight before the girls broke off to go their separate ways. Rainbow and Rarity staggered back to the Boutique, the graceful unicorn having offered her guest room to the inebriated pegasus. Twilight was carried back to the castle on Applejack’s stout back, having overindulged in the evening’s libations although for Twilight that meant anything more than one glass. Pinkie, of course, stayed behind to clean up the Corner for the next day’s business and Fluttershy had kindly stayed behind to offer a helping hoof. By the time the butter-yellow pegaus left a strong wind had kicked up. It was beyond night and into the very early morning as Fluttershy struggled towards her cottage, the wind seemed to get more fierce the closer she got to the Everfree.

“Must be a wild s-s-tooo-” Fluttershy stiffled a yawn as she muscled her way to her front door, “storm, oh my, I hope the animals are all righ- EEP!”

Her thoughts were interrupted by crash of thunder and lightning outside. The flash and crack were nearly simultaneous and Fluttershy quickly scrambled over to her couch, propped herself up onto it, and peered out the window. Thunderstorms weren’t terrible uncommon around the Everfree, what with the wild weather that spawned up from its depths every few weeks. Despite her weariness, Fluttershy couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the roiling clouds illuminated by the flashes of lightning. Once they would have scared her, but ever since she started coming out of her shell she had been finding  more of the strength that her friends had always tried to convince her was there. She still didn’t like Nightmare Night all that much, but she had found some appreciation for things like the Everfree Forests wild storms. There was something majestic about the thunderstorm that roared outside her little home. Fluttershy was certainly glad she wasn’t in the middle of it, that would be a different story. But here in her home, wrapped in a blanket on the couch, watching the periodic flashes illuminate the roiling mass of clouds, Fluttershy felt at peace.

Another, larger flash lit her whole living room as a crash of lightning came down not terribly far from her home, maybe as little as a mile or two into the forest. And then again, and again, and again. All in the same place. Fluttershy felt her consciousness fading into exhaustion as she watched the display of nature’s fury.

“Must’ve… uncovered a lodestone,” Fluttershy muttered as she curled onto the couch, too tired to go upstairs to her bed. “I’ll let Pinkie know in the morning, I’m sure… she’ll…”

Fluttershy fell asleep before she could finish the thought, so she missed the last few strikes of lightning. She also missed the sounds of a terrible roar splitting the air of the Everfree, masked by the thunder but not enough to disguise it’s unnatural fury.

 

 

Fluttershy woke slowly and groggily. The morning sunlight was streaming almost painfully through her living room window and it took her several moments to remember why she was waking up on her couch instead of in her bed.

The thunderstorm, that’s right. The thought passed through her muddy mind as she shook the remaining drowsiness off.

Her wings were kinked and sore from her awkward sleeping position and her mane was plastered comically to one side of her face. Staggering into the bathroom she performed her morning ablutions and finished combing out the worst snarls in her mane before stepping back into the kitchen to scrape together a quick breakfast. The storm had probably made a lot of work for her this morning and she wanted to get started as soon as possible. It was only after her second mug of black tea that she realised something was amiss.

The animals sure are quiet today, Fluttershy looked around, Angel Bunny was almost surely still asleep and even after he woke he usually romped around for a while before coming in and demanding his breakfast. Still, where is the birdsong? There should be quite a few of them out on a morning this nice.

Finishing her toast quickly Fluttershy stood from her table and made her way towards the back door, stopping only to grab the large bag of birdseed she kept nearby. Maybe they had run out of birdseed and were foraging. Opening the back door, Fluttershy opened her mouth to call out to her animal friends. The words died in her mouth.

“Oh my.” Fluttershy squeaked out instead. She stood in her backyard taking in a sight that she was not entirely sure how to feel about. On the one hoof there was wing-clenching terror. On the other hoof, sympathy for a badly hurt fellow pony. Well, maybe not ‘fellow’ per se. I mean, after all, he was technically a king. Now though, he was laying on the ground behind her cottage looking exhausted in every sense of the word.

Fluttershy had been far from the thick of things during the strife in the Crystal Empire but Twilight had described King Sombra as, ‘more ectoplasmic superstructure supported by thaumaturgic matrices dependent on anti-harmonic synergy than flesh.’ Fluttershy had just nodded politely at that. Spike politely translated it later as, ‘more smokey than he was solid.’ That had made much more sense. Now though, he was solid. Totally and completely solid. And very. Very. Big. He made Big Macintosh look petite by comparison. Mac stood a head above most other ponies, but the King of Shadows would probably stand the same over Mac. He still wore the raiments of his office. The dark iron crown circled about his mane of coal just above his arterial red horn while a steel gorget wrapped about his neck, scuffed as if from recent combat. His steel hoofguards were in the same condition while his royal cloak, while still in good repair, had several tears in it.

“...Help… me.”

Fluttershy’s ear twitched fearfully but, against her better judgment, she leaned in. “Uhm, excuse me, I’m sorry but… I didn’t hear you. Are you alright Mister…” *gulp* “Sombra, sir?”

One eye flicked open a bright green sclera surrounding an dark red eye glared balefully out from beneath a heavy lid.  “I said, ‘help’, little mouse.”

Fluttershy gulped back another lump of terror. This was not at all how she had been hoping her morning would go. “Uhm, I really don’t think I should… I mean… you’re a criminal-”

“I AM A KING!” His voice bellowed through the forest as he surged to his hooves, the animals nearby dashed for cover and what few had been brave enough to chance a look at the stranger were now gone. Sombra slumped back to the ground, as if the shout had cost him more stamina than it should have. “And you… will… Obey,” the last word came out echoing and laced with Power.

Fluttershy had faced down bears, manticores, and even a dragon once. She might have looked soft and fluffy but beneath that pastel yellow exterior was steel of the finest quality. That being said, when faced with the cyclopean behemoth that was the overpowering will of the Crystal Tyrant there was only so much that fine steel could do before it buckled, and Fluttershy’s world turned into a haze of mind-numbing fog.

 

++

 

The Tyrant of the Crystal Empire had to admit. He was a little bit impressed. Alright, truthfully the amount of resistance she had put up more than impressed. The purple one had possessed might near to a fledgling alicorn princess in terms of magical muscle and even she had folded like crepe paper against the power of a mere contingent trap-spell. Though that trap had been one of his finer snares.

This soft, butter-coated mare though… Power could be taught, seized, bargained for, even stolen. But the will to control that power. That was a talent one could not simply learn. It was inherent. It was the difference between a King and a Slave. First things came first though.

You will obey me, heal me, care for my needs, and bring me back to health.” His words slithered into the young pegasus’ mind and wrapped themselves lazily around her brain. “You will keep my presence secret, you will tell no other creature of my existence or this event.” Fluttershy nodded at each command, unwillingly, but inexorably agreeing to each term. “I seal you to this geasa with my name, Erebos Sombra, and by my Horn it is done.” A spark of magic arched from his horn, striking Fluttershy between the eyes and snapping her out of the trance she had been drifting in.

“W-what… what did you do to me?” Fluttershy backpedaled away, eyes wide with fear. Sombra, however, had slumped to the ground, Drained by the exertion of his spell.

“Bring me inside, Mouse.” His words rang in her ears like a bass thrum. She tried to say ‘no’ but, to Fluttershy’s visible shock, she was already moving to his side, nudging beneath his massive foreleg to lift him up and drag him towards the back door to her cottage. Carefully, she avoided the sharp edges and points of his armor as she heaved him up and forward. Sombra adjusted himself as best he could to keep the mare from accidentally impaling herself.

The journey was less arduous and bump-filled than Sombra had anticipated, it seemed the yellow pegasus had a naturally gentle touch. All the better, the gentle ones made for the finest healers. It took almost ten minutes before they were inside, Sombra had never before had reason to curse his magnificent physique but it was becoming more bothersome by the second. Perhaps he would force the yellow mouse pony into a physical regimen to strengthen her muscles. Eventually they were inside and Sombra could not help but admire the sheer persistence with which she must have been devoted to the ideal of keeping her home ‘quaint’. The miniscule amount of effort he had been able to exert to speed the process had left him exhausted to the bone.

“I will sleep now,” Sombra could already feel his lids closing on their own, he allowed it. “Ensure that I awaken on something… softer than… your floor…” And then he was out.

 

++

 

Fluttershy dropped to the ground like a marionette sans strings and shivered. His last command still rang loudly in her ears. It was like the loudest kind of party and she was standing flush to the speakers. Once she stood and moved towards her closet, intending to retrieve the spare mattress, and the blaring receded to a background hum. Fluttershy filed that away, so long as she did as he ordered the noise would stay tolerable, but she should tell somepony shouldn’t sh-... The pain came without warning. It was like the noise in the loosest sense but where before it had been an all encompassing sound that seemed to close in around her, this was an aural spike of pure agony that threw her to the ground. With a lurch Fluttershy heaved the small breakfast she had eaten back up and onto the floor before dropping against, her knees incapable of holding her up. Her face rested in the cooling bile and she couldn’t even bring herself to care. The pain had faded and that was all that mattered.

 

 

Sombra woke to the sound of soft humming, like birdsong but sweeter, and as he lay upon something so incredibly soft it was beyond belief he reflected on how the voice might be quite the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. For several minutes he contented himself with simply easing back into the waking world and letting the song lull him into a state of peace he had not known for a millennium.

“A-are you awake now?” Sombra wrinkled his nose, her voice was quite pleasant but he preferred her singing. “Uhm, that is, if you’re not then it’s ok.”

“I am awake, little mouse,” Sombra rumbled as he finally opened his eyes, rolling the mass of muscles that was his withers he felt, and heard, a satisfying pop-crack. “And henceforth you shall refer to me as ‘Your Majesty’, ‘Your Highness’, or ‘Master’. I graciously place that choice in your hooves.”

“Yes, your Majesty.” Fluttershy replied without hesitation. “I put away your things in my closet, uhm, if that’s okay... your Majesty”

Sombra raised a single, dark eyebrow as he gave a slight nod. A strong inherent will, faultless physical appearance, and naturally submissive. Sombra reflected, a dry smile etching onto his features as Fluttershy turned away to begin making up the makeshift bed. Had my apprentices in the Empire possessed half of her potential the Diarchs would not have known what had hit them.

A soft clink of porcelain drew his attention, somewhere in his musings Fluttershy had slipped out of the living room where he had slumbered and into the kitchen and had returned with a platter of sandwiches and a pot of luxuriously scented tea. She moved back into the living room with the same quiet motions, only the platter which was balanced perfectly on her haunches made any sound. Without a word she slid the platter onto the table in front of Sombra, leaning in to nudge it towards him with her nose. Never once did she look him in the eyes.

And if half of my servants had begun so well trained I might have ended up significantly less miserable as well. Sombra favored her with a brief nod of praise before picking up the sandwich in his magic and taking a bite. Cold, crisp cucumber danced across his tongue tinged with a light, tangy sauce. Not exactly castle fare but it was almost an improvement by simplicity alone. That and Sombra only just now realized he was ravenous.

“Your Majesty?” Her voice was soft and as unobtrusive as it was possible to be. Sombra looked up, still chewing his way through his third sandwich. “Uhm, if you don’t mind, I was wondering why you’re not… still…”

“Mad as a march hare?” Sombra interjected wryly. Fluttershy blinked, momentarily unsure if she should agree. “You can thank your pretty pink princess for that. The crystal heart broke my power and I only survived thanks to a contingent spell I had laced into the castle’s architecture during my reign.”

“So, how did you become that way in the first place?” Fluttershy delicately lifted the pot of tea and poured a generous measure for the both of them. His cup filled first of course, Sombra gave another appreciative nod.

“Try being trapped in a lightless limbo for a thousand years with only your darkest fears for company,” he answered before snapping up another sandwich. “It is, to say the least, unpleasant.”

Fluttershy blinked in surprise. “O-oh, but I thought all of the crystal ponies were… uhm… frozen? Or am I wrong? I’m probably wrong.” The dainty pegasus looked depressingly dejected but politely attentive nonetheless.

Really, Sombra mused, if she weren’t the Element of Kindness I would suspect her of being the mastermind of the entire group. It seems that, contrary to my former belief, there really are ponies this nice. Taking a deep, satisfied breath, Sombra shook his head. “You are and you are not, mouse. My slaves were frozen, it’s true, but I was too powerful to be affected by the stasis spell. However, I was still within the event horizon of the banishment spell so…” He waved his hoof nonchalantly. “There you have it.” Sombra sheathed his teacup in a telekinetic glow and lifted it to his lips, taking a careful sip and humming appreciatively at the rich, subtle flavor. “This is quite good, you have your King’s gratitude.”

Fluttershy looked up with a bright smile, “Oh, uhm, thank you. It’s…” She trailed off, and the expression departed with her words.

“No, I did nothing to influence your opinion of me.” Sombra grinned, thick, brutal fangs showing as he cut off the inevitable question poised on his reluctant host’s lips. Fluttershy’s mouth dropped open, daintily of course. “I have, in point of fact, performed no magic beyond that first spell and the telekinesis I am currently using. It seems that you, my dear mouse, are simply naturally eager to please.”

“I…” the protest died on her lips, Sombra might be evil but he wasn’t lying. Fluttershy had always strove to be helpful and thoughtful of others. Even evil kings, it seemed. “I… suppose you’re right, your Majesty.”

“Of course I’m right,” Sombra answered as if it had never even been a question.

 

++

 

They sat at the table for another hour in silence, broken only by the occasional refill of Sombra’s teacup, Fluttershy found herself lacking appetite suddenly. Instead she spent the time thinking. Thinking, and looking. Sombra was impossibly imposing. Even without the spell on her mind, even if he had no magic, he could easily kill her or any of her animals. The more she thought about it the more she was forced to accept that the spell was probably the best outcome that could have happened. If he had been unable to cast the spell, he no doubt would have resorted to… cruder methods. Fluttershy suppressed a shiver at the thought of what Sombra would do to get his way. To protect himself from the Princesses and her friends.

Still, Fluttershy silently admitted, at least he’s polite.

Discord’s rehabilitation had tested even her patience, and he had been forced to relinquish most of his magic from the start. Fluttershy blinked as a thought flittered across her mind.

An idea.

She had rehabilitated Discord, the spirit of disharmony itself! True, she had been under the aegis of the Princesses then but still, in practice maybe it could work again. Fluttershy had shown Discord what it meant to have friends, to be a part of something and he had realized that friendship, once he had it, wasn’t something he was willing to lose! The panic that had been bubbling away in Fluttershy’s heart suddenly settled as she realized that, even though the situation seemed bad, it didn’t change who she was or what she had to do. Sombra was evil, miserable, and wicked. All of this was true, but that didn’t mean he didn’t deserve chance at redemption. If Discord got one, then Sombra deserved one too. The rich feeling of purpose took the place of fear in Fluttershy’s heart and she looked at Sombra again, this time willing away the image of the Evil King and seeing him the same way she had resolved to see Discord. As just another pony in need of kindness.

He’s... beautiful. Blood rushed to Fluttershy’s cheeks as the thought coalesced.

Now that she had resolved not to let her past views of him color her vision, the new first impression stuck fast. Every inch of his body was covered in smooth, flawless fur the color of dark ash underneath which rippling muscle could be seen. His mane coiled back in obsidian waves that, despite just waking, seemed to curl into a naturally rakish shape. He held himself with the bearing of true royalty and, with his thoughts turned inwards, the normal sneer of cruelty that made up his usual expression was replaced with an introspective mein that gave him a noble and scholarly appearance. Every inch of him radiated strength, confidence, and absolute control.

I wonder what he was like before he was king… I wonder if he was nice. With an effort, Fluttershy shook the thoughts free.

“Bit for your thoughts, little mouse?” The dark stallion grinned at Fluttershy’s squeak. “Or were you picturing how next you might service me?” He rumbled suggestively, giving her a look that made all kinds of thoughts fly through her head. It was around the fifth shade of red that she turned that Sombra began laughing. A loud, bass sound. Like rich, warm cider in winter. “Ah, you are amusing, little mouse, I am entertained. Well done.”

Swallowing heavily and consciously pulling her wings back in, Fluttershy nodded. “Uhm, I was wondering… if it’s ok I mean… Uhm, what did you do to me?”

Sombra nodded his assent to the question and took another sip of tea. “I placed a geasa upon you. In the ancient tongue it means: a taboo.” Fluttershy nodded, but said nothing.

Choosing to continue, Sombra actually seemed quite pleased to have an eager listener for once who wasn’t quaking in their shoes. “A mystic taboo, or geasa, is not like normal mind magic. It’s subtle and powerful, but very difficult to properly use. It places a compulsion within the deepest parts of the equine mind, beginning at the lowest level and working its way up. A geasa is a false mnemonic in your mind that creates excessively unpleasant stimulation every time you act against whatever the geasa concerns. This is the beauty of it, no matter who you are or how strong you might think you are, a geasa will always be the worst feeling you can imagine because your mind is what creates it in the first place.”

Fluttershy nodded again, feeling ill but still listening attentively. It was a horrible thing to be done to somepony, but it was also kind of interesting too.

“To avoid any unpleasantness I will explain your boundaries," Sombra remarked evenly, setting aside his newspaper. "That is my duty as King after all.” Fluttershy nodded more vehemently at this. She had no desire to experience the pain that had made her lose her breakfast earlier ever again.

“The geasa I placed upon you prevents you from revealing my presence or talking to anyone about what happened or happens between us. It also compels you to obey me in respect to seeing to my well-being.” Sombra listed each task off like it was a grocery list and Fluttershy nodded at each salient point. “However, you are not compelled to act against your nature or anything of the sort, I cannot force you to bring harm to yourself or your friends.”

Fluttershy let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding. The idea that she might be forced to do something terrible to someone to protect the King had been a stone in her gut since she realized she couldn’t disobey him. Then a thought occurred. “Why?”

Sombra narrowed his eyes, as if mildly offended. “Because I am a king, not some barbarian chief. I do not need to break the mind of another to see my will done. Besides, geasa lose their potency quickly if I were to force you to do something drastically against your nature. Subtlety is all I require to regain my strength. Keep my secret and your silence and that is all I will continue to require.

The threat was quiet but clear, and Fluttershy nodded. “As you say, your Majesty.”

 

++

 

“Your manners are impeccable, little mouse,”

Sombra’s voice broke the silence. Fluttershy glanced over, staring at the black stallion who had yet to look up from the copy of the Equestria Daily he was reading. She had been tidying up her small kitchen after the meal and readying to feed the animals around her preserve.

Fluttershy felt a soft flush grow on her cheeks. Evil king or not, Fluttershy did not hear compliments on much beyond her appearance or general attitude very often. “Uhm, thank you. My parents were very strict about keeping proper etiquette. Father would always say ‘a bad day is no excuse for poor manners’ whenever he was teaching me.”

Sombra lifted a single eyebrow, a tic that Fluttershy had quickly noted as being a sign of interest. “Hm, I happen to agree. Was your father of the aristocracy?”

“Oh, no, not at all. He was a seneschal to one of the minor noble houses in Cloudsdale. My brother and sister are both…” Fluttershy clapped her hooves to her mouth. “Sorry, I’m sure you don’t want to hear about a line a servants.”

“On the contrary, it’s possibly one of the only things we have in common,” Sombra remarked back, hoofing the third page of the paper aside and turning to the next section. “Do continue.”

“Well, uhm, my brother, Easy Breeze, is seneschal now that my father retired. My sister Lightweight is the head of the personal guard, my mother’s old post.” Fluttershy smiled softly at the memory of her family. They didn’t see each other often anymore and the yellow mare frowned at the notion that she might not ever see them again at all if this plan of hers went south. “I love them all very much.”

Sombra looked up, an unreadable expression painting his patrician features. Fluttershy averted her eyes from his and did her level best to keep her gaze on the table. She could feel his regard weighing on her, like he was looking into her. “Tell me, little mouse, how do you think this will end?”

Fluttershy snapped her eyes back up to Sombra’s face, fear racing through her heart. She couldn’t very well tell him ‘with you embracing the magic of friendship’ and she doubted that’s what he was asking anyway. He wanted to know how Fluttershy thought matters would end when he no longer needed her to care for him. Frankly, the meek pegasus had been trying not to think about it. But the geasa compelled her.

“I think that, when you’re better, you’ll kill me so I can’t tell anyone who was here or where you had gone.” It was the truth, or rather, it was what the deepest part of her heart knew would happen. Oddly enough, it felt almost liberating to put that fear into words. Instead of the quaking terror she expected, all Fluttershy felt was a sort of grim calm as she stared into his deep, slitted eyes. “I think it will end with no one ever knowing how I died.”

 

++

 

Sombra marvelled at how such a demure mare could manage to consistently impress him. The dark king did not consider himself a stallion of low standards, yet in the matter of hours (respective of his states of consciousness) that he had known this little mare she showed him more backbone than some of his generals had. Even now she was calmly meeting his eyes and telling him that she had every expectation of being killed for the sake of secrecy. In fairness, that had originally been Sombra’s plan too so he could hardly blame her from guessing it. Ending her life after he was healed was the most logical way for this chain of events to end. He would be healed, his presence unknown, the only witness silenced. For the first time in millennia he would be truly free.

And yet…

Every time Sombra approached the idea of ending the young mare’s life in his own mind he felt repulsed by the notion. Disgusted even. The very thought of quashing such potential prematurely grated against him. Of course, none of that changed the logic of the matter: she had to die or he would face pursuit once again by his nemeses. Suddenly, another thought intruded, one that was so absurd he could not believe he had overlooked it.

“What is your name?” The words came out before he realized it. True, he had never thought to ask her for her name. In fact, he was hard-pressed to recall the names of any of his servants. Servants were there to serve, they were seen and not heard. In a sense, they were closer kin to furniture in that they served a purpose and nothing else. But not knowing the Mouse’s name seemed wrong somehow. It certainly seemed wrong to have to kill her in the end without ever learning it.

Fluttershy blinked at the sudden change of tone and topic. “I… my name is... Fluttershy, your Majesty.” Her tone was confused but, a little relieved.

“Fluttershy,” Sombra tasted the word, it suited her. It was soft and quiet in the same way as its owner. The coal-coated king, for a moment, felt every one of his thousands year lifespan settle on his shoulders. He felt exhausted. “Very good, Mouse, I am going to sleep now. My body is still weary, ensure there is another meal waiting for me when I awake.”

“A-as you say, your Majesty.” It was the only answer she could give.

 
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