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Synopsis: Following the events of The Last Problem many years later, what begins as a tale of Twilight mourning the loss of her last friend to leave the mortal world becomes a story involving deep, inner conflict of two destinies in the cosmos. In a world where light and darkness can not exist without each other and the living become one with either the stars or the blackness in the sky upon their passing, one must wonder what happens when Twilight Sparkle's friends pass away from the world and meet King Sombra. As the two begin to question their destinies, they begin to wonder what would happen if their roles were reversed...

You can read the first chapter on FIMFiction.net...


Or here...

Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Destinies  

Light and darkness…the stories tell that one can not exist without the other…this is one of those stories, where most of Equestria knows this, and can sense that after death, their energies will coalesce into either a star or a shadow, becoming one with either light or darkness…

Those who carry out the will of the light while they are alive become one with the stars after death, and those who carry out the will of the darkness while they are alive will become one with the creations of the void.

Light is not necessarily good, and darkness is not necessarily evil. The destruction the void brings is a product of hopelessness, though it is far more often the darkness that spreads hopelessness, the will of the void to the world. Light far more often spreads hope, thus the two forces will always be in conflict.     

Sometimes, the darkness will win. The void will take away those we love through death. But the light gives us a chance to create something everlasting to share with others through life. This is what gives the light, and in turn, our lives, purpose. The power of light is the power to create something from the void.

All of these things are known by Twilight Sparkle’s friends. Unfortunately, now, however, they have died. For our story begins many years following Twilight Sparkle’s ascension to the throne, assuming her role as the leader of Equestria, where her friend whose kindness allowed her to comprehend these things best has been called to the great beyond…

Inside Fluttershy’s cottage, tears were falling to the floor while two of Fluttershy’s closest friends were sniffing and sobbing…

“I can’t believe this…she’s actually gone…”

Princess Twilight Sparkle and Discord were crying their eyes out over Fluttershy’s bed alongside all of her animals, a motley crowd that included creatures of all kinds from bunnies to flamingoes.

Fluttershy had died. Twilight despondently used her magic to pull the cover she was under over her head as a way to show respect to the last of her five closest friends to depart from this mortal plane.

“How did this happen?” a mournful Twilight had asked herself in thought with a heavy heart at Fluttershy’s funeral, which was held before she was buried alongside Twilight’s other friends, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. She was now standing by where all of her friends were buried, staring at their tombstones as if she was mesmerized, an hour passing by in her mind as if it were only a few minutes.

“How could all my friends leave me like this?” she asked herself another difficult question her heart had trouble taking. “I knew it had to happen one day…and that the pain was going to be unbearable…but why like this? I just know they could’ve lived longer…but instead they’ve all died the same death…they all passed away only months apart from each other…it’s as if this was planned by unseen forces…”

Twilight was referring to the fact that each one of her friends had died of a heart attack in their sleep. Despite the fact that none of them had shown any signs of illness or serious condition before their passing, they had still left her while they still should have had some time left. In spite of that, every several months, each one of them would go to bed, then not wake up the next day.

“I knew that having to endure this was my inevitable fate, possessing immortality…” she thought somberly. “And I’m glad that they all went peacefully, but…now that it’s actually happened…no, even just remembering how it played out…”

Applejack had been the first to go. Her death devastated her still living siblings when it happened, yet Big McIntosh and Apple Bloom quickly recuperated, knowing that Applejack would’ve wanted them to move on. They knew it wouldn’t be long before they too would meet their fallen family relatives in the stars. One of Twilight’s friends, however, did not take it as well…

Rainbow Dash was especially upset. Pinkie Pie had tried to cheer her up despite being sad herself, but Rainbow took it the wrong way as a lack of consideration and yelled at her, leading the two to get into a fight. They later apologized to each other, but their relationship was not the same after that. After Rainbow died, Pinkie lost her appetite for sweets, developing a habit for baking cakes, not to indulge in or give to any pony, just to decorate and let sit on the counter. Her Pinkie sense said her time was coming, after all. Her eventual death was not taken as well by her family as Applejack’s. By then, both of Pinkie’s parents were already dead, and while Applejack’s family farm still succeeded financially, the finances of Pinkie’s family farm plummeted, and most of her relatives still suffer from chronic depression.

Rarity was the last to go before Fluttershy. Sensing that she was destined to suffer the same fate as her other friends, she entrusted her business to Coco Pommel and spent her last days of mortal life preparing dresses for Coco, Fluttershy, and Twilight, in addition to a will that allowed Spike to inherit her most prized gem, the one he gave her that day he confessed his crush to her…

Once Rarity had passed away, Fluttershy knew she was next. She wore the dress Rarity had made for her every day out of respect, spending her last days of mortal life taking especially good care of her animals and devotedly practicing meditation. On the day before she took her final rest, she was discussing the things her meditation had awakened her to with Discord. She told him that her friends dying the same way in succession was no coincidence, that they were being called to the stars by the will of the light…

“Please tell Twilight…to believe in us if we are called to do something she won’t understand…” Discord had told Twilight what Fluttershy had relayed to him at her funeral. “The light works in mysterious ways…but you must not lose hope…hope gives the light power and darkness is needed for us to grow stronger too…but hopelessness will only give power to the void…”  

“What did she mean by that?” Twilight asked with concern.

“I’m not certain…” Discord answered, disillusioned and with equal concern. “But I have a theory. Do you know why I did something as dubious as bringing back all those villains to test you?”

“Yes?” Twilight replied.

“Neither do I.” Discord told her solemnly, surprising her. “I was just doing what came to me naturally at the time. As the spirit of chaos, it is in my nature to disrupt the order of the light. However, I can only go as far as the powers that be allow me to. If the light willed it, I could disappear from this world right this moment. If only I was the one the light had allowed the darkness to take…”

“So that time when you brought back King Sombra…” Twilight said in reminisce. “Could you only do so then because the light allowed you to?”

“I’ve never had the power to bring back the dead, if that’s what you’re alluding to.” Discord gave her another solemn response that she had this time somewhat expected. “Sombra was not dead, only dispelled. As he is now…”

Twilight stood silent, even though she had also somewhat expected this too. Deep down inside, she always knew that the light of her friendship couldn’t truly destroy another pony, not even one as evil as Sombra. She even felt a sense of relief…before a dark thought dawned on her…

“You don’t think…” she murmured, worried. “That Sombra has something to do with this, do you?”

“I doubt it.” Discord blankly replied to dispel her fears. “I was actually incapable of bringing him back after you and your friends dispelled him for the second time. The first time he was defeated, his particles had been scattered into the ether. The second time, he had actually been banished to the moon.”

“How can you be so sure he has nothing to do with this?” Twilight asked, unconvinced. “Before we dispelled Sombra for good, we blasted him with the Elements, causing his body to disintegrate. Yet he was still capable of returning. And if Nightmare Moon was able to escape from the moon, why can’t Sombra?”

“Remember that Nightmare Moon did not free herself from the moon.” Discord reminded her. “It was the stars that aided in her escape.”

Twilight then recalled what Big McIntosh and Apple Bloom had said about meeting their late relatives in the stars, putting it together with what Discord had told her about what Fluttershy had said…and felt a disturbing premonition…

She took a deep breath, practicing the breathing technique Cadance had taught her decades ago to try and relax herself.

“Keep it together, Twilight…” she told herself in thought. “There’s no way my friends would ever help Sombra…let alone allow themselves to be killed by him.”  

“Twilight…” Discord interjected, reading her thoughts. “You shouldn’t doubt your friends for a second. You can’t allow yourself to be consumed by irrational thought, even in this trialing hour. Your friends wouldn’t want to see you like this, would they?”  

“No, of course they wouldn’t.” Twilight answered sincerely, feeling shame. “I’m just worried that…maybe I’m the reason they all left this world so suddenly. They were getting to be of old age, meanwhile I’m in a body that will never grow old or die…am I just a selfish pony they didn’t want to be around anymore?”

“I think they’d be even more upset to see you consumed by self-deprecating thought…” Discord admonished her in frustration. “If you don’t want to be immortal anymore, you may ascend the same way Celestia and Luna did, leaving Luster Dawn to rule in your stead.”  

“The thought has crossed my mind many times, I assure you.” Twilight retorted, feeling frustrated herself, but also feeling that Discord was trying to be cruel to be to kind. “But I can’t shake this premonition. I feel there’s still one thing I have left to do before my destiny is truly fulfilled…”

Twilight looked back at her cutie mark as she uttered that last sentence…

“I respect your decision.” Discord said with sincerity. “I, however, do not wish to linger in a world without Fluttershy, my first and dearest friend. Starting today, I am retiring to the dimension of chaos for good.”

Discord clicked his fingers and made a blue portal appear behind him.

“Though I will tell you one more thing before I go…”

“That is…?” Twilight asked curiously.

“Even if your friends did do what you suspected them of, never doubt them.” he told her seriously, which had Twilight taken aback by his tone. “Even an immortal being like yourself must learn that one can not have an earthly understanding when making a judgment of a cosmic situation.”  

“Discord…” Twilight reacted in surprise. “You…”

Discord didn’t say another word before he stepped into the portal, closing it behind him.

“I was lying…” he thought. “I do know why I did what I did. Having good intentions and acting on my nature, that’s just as far as a mortal understanding of my actions can go. The painful truth one can only see with a cosmic outlook is that I am a part of the world’s darkness that must return to it…you and your friends were a light I wanted to see shine before I left…”

Discord clicked his fingers again, proving the truth of his words in thought as he began to disintegrate into particles of darkness, just as Sombra had long ago…

“However, I can not help you anymore…for in order to pass the test you must take before you can ascend as your mentors did, you must put yourself in place of the darkness…”

With those words, Discord’s particles finished dispersing into the world of chaos. Twilight, getting ready to return home, felt a compulsion to look up at the sky after feeling a chilling sensation, and saw a black swirl briefly appear and disappear.

“Discord is dead now too…” she realized in a state of disbelief. “I was just talking to him…”

Twilight then collapsed to the ground and put her front hooves on her head before she looked up to the sky and screamed.


Twilight didn’t know it then, but things had been allowed to transpire this way for a reason, a reason that was meant to be revealed by the sky that night…

She wept…

Now a star in the night sky, Fluttershy was mourning over Discord’s death, as he had mourned hers…

“Oh, would you lighten up?” a familiar shadow told the star coldly. “New parts of the void and the light are born here from the dead every day. You’d never have enough tears for all the souls in the galaxy.”

“Oh, cut her some slack, you varmint!” Applejack, also a star now, scolded the shadow in the moon beside her. “She just got here!”

“And it’s not exactly a badge of honor to proudly display,” mocked Rainbow Dash, also a star close to the moon, “the fact that you got here so much sooner than we did by losing to us spectacularly!”

The visage of an angry King Sombra was made visible on the moon, revealing that the shadow in the moon they were speaking to was indeed him.


“It’s fine, girls.” Fluttershy interjected calmly, surprising both her friends and Sombra. “He has a point. We all have to do what we still can for the living. Right now, Twilight needs our help.”

Pinkie Pie and Rarity, both stars now too that were in between Fluttershy and the rest of the group, concurred.

“Yeah, what are we waiting for?!” Pinkie cried excitedly. “Let’s get this party in space started with a BIG BANG!”

“Twilight simply adores stargazing!” Rarity exclaimed, also enthusiastic. “Once she sees us five showing off such a dazzling gleam, she’ll immediately recognize that it’s us sending her a sign to never give up on hope!”

Sombra groaned, feeling he would throw up if he was still able to.

“Aren’t any of you in the least bit nervous of the fact that in order to make this grand light show of “hope” possible, you will have to free your greatest nemesis from captivity?” Sombra reminded them.

The five friends turned to each other for a second before they all began to laugh.

“Greatest nemesis, ha ha ha!” Pinkie guffawed.

“Why would we be nervous when our power’s greater than yours?” Applejack taunted him.

“And after we release you, our power will be greater than ever!” Rainbow exclaimed confidently. “You’re not even comparable to a prisoner on parole, you’re more like a power-up in a video game, heh heh!”

“At this point, it means nothing whether or not you are freed.” Rarity chimed in. “Your darkness is a complement to the power of our light. The will of the light would never allow us to free you otherwise.”

“And once you are brought out here, we’ll be able to create so many beautiful new stars from your darkness that will inspire not just Twilight, but future generations to come!” Fluttershy exclaimed happily. “We all get new opportunities! It’s the best possible win-win!”  

The cheers and jeers of Twilight’s friends left Sombra feeling crestfallen in deep thought.

“This is an even worse punishment than being destroyed or imprisoned…” he discovered in horror. “The realization of the fact of just how little Twilight and her friends fear me now…even freed, it is as if I’m their slave…”

Looking upon those happy stars, the shadow grew ever envious…

“Why was I born to become part of the darkness?” he questioned angrily. “Why couldn’t my destiny have been with the light?”

Sombra didn’t know at the time, but soon, he would have an answer to that question. What it would’ve been like if roles were reversed…

A large light suddenly sparkled…

Behind the moon, six stars glowed forebodingly, forming a familiar pattern…

Down below, Twilight looked up at the evening sky from the window of her castle bedroom, knowing it was almost time to raise the moon, and saw the mark of her destiny beaming.

“What if this wasn’t my destiny?” she asked herself sadly. “What if I had never made friends, just staying in the darkness alone my whole life?”

The six stars continued to silently shed their light…for having appeared from another dimension, they knew that the courses of their destinies could be altered…

They know both their stories…

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New chapter already, because I love you guys! :kirin:

Chapter 2: Roles Reversed

Twilight Sparkle made her way to the castle balcony, prepared to raise the moon.

“No matter how upset I may be…” she told herself in a disciplinary tone despite her melancholy. “I can’t use depression as an excuse to neglect my duties. A good leader must put nothing before her land and her subjects…”

As she began to cast the spell to raise the moon, she found herself still having to perish negative, debilitating thoughts…

“If you don’t want to be immortal anymore, you may ascend the same way Celestia and Luna did, leaving Luster Dawn to rule in your stead.” 

She grunted as she recalled Discord saying this…

“Yeah, I can just take the easy way out like you did…” she thought angrily, harboring some resentment towards the draconequus. “After what you pulled, would it really be a surprise if you’re actually the one pulling the strings again?”

Twilight grew absorbed in thoughts of distrust as she began to raise the moon slowly but surely…

“Like I’d ever know with you…” she continued to tell herself in frustration before she brought the moon up all the way. “Maybe everything you told me about King Sombra was just done to mess with me. After all, to even imagine my frien-“

Twilight paused in mid-sentence with a gasp. Up in the sky now was a sight she almost couldn’t comprehend…

It was five stars, glowing radiantly as they moved closer to the moon, similar to the way the stars had approached the moon on the night Nightmare Moon returned. An ordinary pony would’ve perceived the stars as nothing more than such, but Twilight, an alicorn with extensive knowledge of magic, was able to recognize that these stars were the souls of her fallen friends, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy. Any hope that they were not setting Sombra free from his lunar prison was crushed once Sombra’s visage became visible to her. Sensing Twilight’s fear, Sombra’s countenance became that of a sinister smirk.

“No…” Twilight said in disbelief, tears flowing from her eyes as she wanted to shout. “NNNNNOOOOO!”

Unable to take the mental pain of what she perceived as her friends betraying her, she teleported to her bedroom and collapsed onto her bed, sobbing uncontrollably into her pillow.

A bright light enveloped the moon once Twilight’s friends came close enough to it, and with a blinding flash, Sombra was freed, taking the form of a shadow.

“Ha ha ha…” he laughed evilly, worrying Twilight’s friends. “Are you sure you’re more powerful than me now?”

“What’s so funny?” Rainbow retorted, trying to maintain bravado, taking Sombra’s words as a challenge.

“Nothing…” Sombra answered, deciding to play along for now. “I’ll still assist you with your light show…it’s just that I have a funny feeling now that it might not go as you thought it would, thanks to an unexpected case of stage fright…”

Twilight’s friends could only react with glances of confusion, not even considering the fact that Twilight would ever lose hope in them.

“Does he mean me?” Fluttershy thought. “In all fairness, I’m still not the best when it comes to performing in front of crowds…”

“Mwa ha ha ha, fools…” Sombra mocked them in thought for being so unsuspecting. “I’ll show you how futile your friendship is…”

Down below, Twilight continued to sniff and sob in her bed before she could hear something that faintly sounded like fireworks outside. Curious, she poked her head up to look out the window.

“Has it gotten darker?” she wondered as she noticed that the sky had grown blacker, thus allowing the stars to shine brighter.

Her attention was soon caught by a pink star dancing across the sky, causing small explosions of stardust to appear every time she moved.

“Pinkie?” Twilight thought in surprise.

Soon, she noticed sparkling bits of stardust suddenly appearing in the sky above a particularly dazzling, white star, as if a pony was tossing gems in the air.


She noticed a similar motion underneath an orange star, only bright bits of stardust appeared below as if they were apples falling from trees.


Three small stars then moved across the sky like butterflies would, leaving behind a yellow trail before they disappeared.


Then finally, a blue star zoomed across the sky at lightning speed, creating a massive explosion that lit up the entire sky with a burst of rainbow energy.

“That’s definitely Rainbow Dash…and not just her, but…”

The rainbow energy revealed that her five friends were gathered together like the stars on her cutie mark in the sky, as each star in the sky twinkled brighter than ever. In the center, one large star made a great flash of light for a second to complete the shape of her cutie mark.

“Absolutely magnificent…” Twilight told herself in amazement.

All across Equestria, the citizens of her land thought so too, including Spike, Luster Dawn, and a grown-up Princess Flurry Heart, who had assumed the throne of the Crystal Empire after her mother chose to ascend and be with her husband.  

“I have a long life ahead of me, and I don’t think I’ll see something like this again for another century at least…” Spike mused in his head.

“One star alone could never create something this extravagant…” Luster Dawn remarked at the sight. “No wonder Princess Twilight has always been so insistent on teaching me the power of unity…”

“Heh heh, he’s up there too, I know it…” Flurry said cheerfully, sensing a familiar presence.

Flurry had an ability similar to Twilight’s that allowed her to see the true forms of the stars and shadows in the sky, being an alicorn who had a destiny intertwined with the Crystal Heart, an artifact that could reveal to a pony their destiny.

“No better punishment for him than to have to make some new friends, hee hee…” Flurry teased.

Sensing Flurry’s lack of fear, Sombra growled.

“I alone created the darkness that made this insipid display possible…” he thought angrily. “And of course, only the stars will receive any credit…it’s not fair…as a part of the darkness, I am inherently disadvantaged…”  

He then turned his anger towards Twilight.

“It is you I hate especially though…” he thought, venom flowing through his words. “You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, while I only knew hardship and suffering growing up. Oh, I envy you…”

Sombra’s anger abated, however, once he saw that Twilight was not feeling the renewal of hope her friends had wanted her to feel like he expected.

“This is the best night sky I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Twilight said in a somber tone, amazed but also disillusioned. “And I watched it alone in my room, depressed.”

Sombra snickered, sadistically thrilled at the efforts of Twilight’s friends backfiring, having the opposite effect.

“But no longer…” he continued in thought happily. “For now, I know that there is no hope left for you. If that didn’t lift your spirits, nothing will. You’ll forever wallow in misery, knowing my torture called solitude. You’ll see what I went through, and no pony would ever want to know my pain. No pony would ever…”

“I can’t believe that Sombra…” Twilight resumed talking, interrupting Sombra’s thoughts. “...after everything that he’s done, gets to witness this up close with all my friends no less, while I have to suffer here alone! The world makes no sense! It should be the opposite! Sombra should be the one going through my pain and I should be the one free, basking in that bliss!”

Upon learning that Twilight was jealous of his position, possessing no awareness of his inner turmoil, Sombra’s anger promptly returned, evolving into an unbridled fury. Even Twilight’s friends were shocked when they also witnessed Twilight turn away from the window in a huff, returning to sulk in her bed until she went to sleep.

“WHAT?!” all six of them cried. “AFTER EVERYTHING WE WENT THROUGH?!”

“I’ve had ENOUGH!” Sombra bellowed furiously, startling Twilight’s friends. “Do you ignorant imbeciles understand now?! Your friendship is a lie! She doesn’t appreciate you, ponies only care about and answer to power! And now, you shall submit to mine!”

Twilight’s friends grew increasingly unnerved, as Sombra’s threat was not empty…with the power of rage making him stronger and them growing weaker from Twilight’s feelings of hopelessness, they could sense that Sombra had become stronger than them now…

“Oh, that’s what he meant by stage fright…” Fluttershy said in realization, aghast at Sombra’s rising strength. “He’s going to make us fear him while all of Equestria watches from below!”

“Right you are!” Sombra jeered gleefully.

Sombra then began to expand his shadow form in a wide radius, covering stars all across the sky with blackness. Witnessing this on the land, the excitement of Twilight’s subjects turned to dread, and their fear in turn gave even more power to the shadow king.

“Heh heh…” Rainbow chuckled nervously. “Don’t panic guys…even though the situation looks bad now, the will of the light would never throw an obstacle we can’t overcome our way…”

“Ho ho ho, but what about the will of the void?” Sombra retorted. “I’m sure the darkness would be quite happy to see Equestria’s most beloved stars consumed by SHADOWS! MWA HA HA HA HA!”

“AAAIIIEEE!” Twilight’s friends screamed as Sombra continued to laugh evilly, his shadows washing over them and absorbing them into a prison of darkness, where they all fell unconscious.

“I’ve won!” he declared triumphantly. “There is no light of hope left that can save you now!”   

“I wonder about that…” a mysterious figure echoed from behind Sombra.

“Who said that?” Sombra responded, bewildered as he turned around to see a large star sparkling behind him. “Hmm? How are you still glowing inside of my shadows?”

“That’s not important right now.” the star replied in a tranquil tone of voice. “The issue right now concerns your destiny…”

“My destiny?” Sombra replied in confusion. “Have you been sent by the will of the light to destroy me again and grant these nincompoops a get-out-of-jail-free card?”

“No, I do not take sides in affairs unrelated to my dimension.” the star answered, revealing that he was the large star that appeared behind Sombra when he was sealed in the moon. “Even if you defeat these five here, they will still live on inside of your darkness. They’ll grow to understand you, and in turn, you will grow to understand them.”

“Nonsense!” Sombra exclaimed in denial, despite dreading the possible truth. “That would never happen! No one would ever empathize with me, thus I empathize with no one!”

“I am only telling you your destiny as a part of the darkness.” the star continued to tell him calmly. “It is your fate to prune the light, making the parts of the light grow stronger and learn as they adapt to the suffering you inflict on them.”

“Of course!” Sombra remarked incisively. “I always knew I was only born to be a monster and make others suffer! I never had a choice!”

“Wrong.” the star bluntly replied. “You did have a choice. It was your soul’s inability to overcome the darkness that made you one with it.”

“Oh, spare me the lecture…” Sombra continued talking back.

“I will.” the star told Sombra, surprising him. “For I did not intend to convince you with words. I know from personal experience that one such as you can only be taught things through example. Thus, I will present both you and Twilight Sparkle with an offer you can’t refuse after all that has happened tonight.”

“And what makes you so certain that neither of us will refuse this deal?” Sombra pried curiously.

“Because my offer is to transport both of you to another dimension,” explained the star, “where you are Twilight and she is you.”   

Sombra was shocked. After taking a brief moment to realize that this truly was an offer he couldn’t refuse, he began to chortle sinisterly…

“Mwa ha ha ha…you have yourself a deal…”

Later that night, Twilight would find herself being given the same offer in a dream as she slept. The next morning, she would wake up in the same bed, but in a different world, one that would show her how blessed she was as a part of the light…  

“In order to pass the test you must take before you can ascend as your mentors did, you must put yourself in place of the darkness…”

Discord’s haunting words echoed...

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Chapter 3: Knowing Solitude

The next day, at sunrise, Twilight Sparkle awoke in her bed from a strange dream.

“Mhmmm…” she groaned as she rose from the bed and rubbed her head with a front hoof, not feeling quite herself. “What an uncanny night…hey…”

Twilight immediately noticed that her voice had a different pitch…a familiar pitch…

“Wh-why do I sound different?” she thought curiously. “Did I catch a cold?”

She found herself having difficulty even remembering exactly what had transpired the night before, for even her mind didn’t feel the same…

“My head feels…foggy…” she told herself groggily as she turned to face the rays of sun shining through the window and onto her bed, not able to see her reflection through the refracting light. “Hold on a second…isn’t raising the sun every morning my task? How can it be out already?”

Twilight would soon receive the answer to that question after there was a knock at the door.

“Hey Twilight, you’re up early!” Spike exclaimed, holding a plate with a mug of steaming hot coffee in one hand while using the other to knock on the door. “You usually-“

Spike was about to turn the knob and enter Twilight’s room before the feeling of a hoof on his shoulder provoked him to stop, pause in mid-sentence, and turn around to face…

“…Twilight?” Spike said in confusion as he turned to see the smiling face of the princess of Equestria.

Overhearing this, Twilight was even more bewildered than her advisor and dear companion.

“Heh, did I scare you?” the figure who appeared to be the princess of Equestria, sharing her voice as well as her appearance, teased Spike. “I just decided to get up and raise the sun a bit earlier than I usually do, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed.”  

“What…is that…me talking?” Twilight thought, now more puzzled than ever. “What in Equestria is going on?”

“Well, that’s…new.” Spike replied with uncertainty. “You’re usually so scheduled…not that I’d have a problem with you breaking your schedule a little bit.”

“Times change, and so do ponies.” the figure attempted to explain her change in behavior, still smiling sweetly. “But I do still enjoy you bringing my morning coffee to me each day. Truly, you are a fine servant.”

“Gee, thanks, heh heh…” a still uncertain Spike said with a nervous chuckle.

The figure’s smile contorted into a stern frown. She stared down at Spike as she took the coffee from the plate, using her magic to levitate it.

“I don’t like your tone…” she admonished him coldly, making him feel more nervous.

She then sipped the coffee.

“And this coffee is too sweet. I prefer my morning cup to be…black.”  

Spike gulped, feeling a familiar, dark gaze piercing his soul from the figure’s eyes. Was this really the mother figure who raised him staring him down?

“Yes, ma’am…” Spike told her diffidently, not wanting to irk this figure any further, feeling great dread. “I can make you a new cup.”

“Oh, no worries!” the figure abruptly exclaimed cheerfully, surprising Spike. “I’ll make do with this for now. It’s just something to keep in mind for the future.”

After saying that, the figure, still holding the coffee with magic, opened the door with her magic and emphatically shut it behind her.

“Today, I’ve already woken up…”

She spoke those words with a sneer as the pony in bed looked over at her, growing ever more confused and concerned with her situation once she saw that this figure not only sounded like her, but looked like her.

“H-h-how…w-w-what…?” the pony in bed stammered nervously. “What’s going on here?”

“I’m just bringing you your morning coffee!” the figure exclaimed in a taunting voice. “It was made for Twilight, wasn’t it? You are Twilight, aren’t you?”

“Y-y-yeah…” Twilight kept stuttering, growing ever worried and embarrassed by her lack of confidence in her own identity.

“Then why don’t you take your morning coffee?” the figure goaded her, still speaking in a derisive voice while levitating the cup of coffee closer to her.

Despite having a bad feeling, Twilight saw no other option but to accept the figure’s offer. The fact that this lookalike of her had tasted the coffee and the fact that Spike had prepared it at least assured her that it was not laced with a toxin or a drug. However, as she levitated the cup below her head, she soon realized that the figure’s mockery had nothing to do with her being forced to ingest a detrimental substance, rather a painful reality…

The reflection that she saw in the coffee was King Sombra’s. She gasped at the sight. The painful reality was the fact that she was now the hated shadow king, and this figure standing before her was Sombra in the body of Equestria’s beloved princess.

“Why so surprised?” Sombra told her gleefully, thrilled by her reaction. “I thought this was what you wanted. Did the star have to trick you into accepting the offer after all? I never would’ve guessed that he was only trying to do a service for me…”  

Twilight, despite her astonishment, put a front hoof to her head, still trying to recollect what happened the night before…

“No…” she said to Sombra blankly once she remembered something important.

“Hmm?” Sombra responded, his smile fading in confusion.

“That’s not what happened…” she continued. “Now that you’re here…I’m…starting to remember…”

She would then relay to Sombra the events of her dream from the previous night as she could recall…


That was all Twilight had been dreaming of once she fell asleep the night before, completely unaware of the fact that her friends had just been swallowed by it. Ever since her friends had begun to pass away, she often found herself simply dreaming of nothing. This night, however, she would have a memorable experience within this void-filled dream…

She was trotting through the blackness, sensing a strong presence, when a familiar large star appeared before her.

“Greetings, princess.” the star addressed her with the same, stoic voice he spoke in when he had talked to Sombra.

“That billowing aura…” Twilight said, surprised by the energy radiating from this star, knowing that it had to be created from a soul that had experienced much. “This can not just be a dream, who are you?”

“Not friend or foe.” the star bluntly answered. “I am a herald from another dimension, one where the darkness triumphs over the light in what you would call “the end”. An alternate reality in which you and your friends lose and King Sombra stands victorious. I am here to give you a message, warning you that the same thing might now happen to your dimension…”

“What?!” Twilight exclaimed in shock. “How?!”

“Sombra’s darkness has consumed your friends, that void now holding them prisoner.” the star explained. “Your feelings of hopelessness allowed him to overpower them. He could’ve proceeded to do worse, but I stopped him. I made him an offer, allowing him to live as you in an alternate reality. And now, I propose the same deal to you, where you may live as him in the same alternate reality.”   

“All I care about is what’s happening with my friends!” Twilight cried, deeply concerned. “Are they safe?!”

The star was stunned, impressed by the purity of Twilight’s heart.

“Even during her darkest hour, she’s completely selfless…” he thought in admiration. “The way her friends drive her…she truly is the complete opposite of…heh, opposites really do attract…”

“Well?!” Twilight continued to cry, growing more worried.

“Your friends are safe.” the star told her assuredly. “Sombra could not have actually done them harm, us stars can only die again if we allow our wills to be eroded, and even then, we can be born again. I didn’t stop Sombra because I believed your friends were in danger. I stopped him because he has to learn an important lesson, as do you.”  

“What kind of lesson?” Twilight asked.

“You must remember the power of hope,” explained the star, “by living a life where hope can not be taken for granted. You must appreciate loss through learning what it’s like to have nothing to lose from the beginning. Sombra, on the other hand, must learn why he does not actually want what he thinks he does. He must learn the futility of the pursuit of victory through evil means.”

“What would happen if I didn’t accept this offer?” Twilight questioned. “Would my friends be okay regardless?”

“Yes.” the star answered blankly. “It would simply be easier for you to reach them in the darkness now if you were of the darkness. There is no coercion here. Whatever will happen to your friends and your dimension, that is not for me to decide. This is about your destiny, nothing else. What path do you wish to forge for yourself?”

“That’s easy.” Twilight answered in a serious tone. “The path that ensures the best possible fate for my friends and the world.”

“I expected nothing less.” the star replied bluntly. “So will you agree to become Sombra, to know his pain?”

“Of course.” Twilight told him. “I believe this is what I have to do to truly fulfill my destiny…”

“Then I shall accommodate you…” the star said to her forebodingly.

“And that’s everything I remember from my dream.” Twilight finished telling Sombra her account of said dream. “I still have no idea who that star was, but…I do find it odd how being in your presence helped jog my memory of that dream.”

“So by the time the star appeared to you,” replied a disbelieving Sombra, “you had already abandoned your selfish desire to be in my position, indulging in my so-called advantages that were naught but the product of your imagination, but decided to accept his offer anyways simply because you believed it would bring you closer to the friends you had just ungratefully snubbed?”

“Obviously, you don’t understand how love works, Sombra.” Twilight retorted. “I only had a rudimentary understanding of what that star was talking about, yet I heeded his words purely on the basis that if there was even a slight grain of truth to them, it would be worth doing this to help my friends and the world. That is not just my destiny. That is the path I choose for myself.”

Sombra grunted angrily, remembering the first time he saw his destiny in the Crystal Heart, his destiny to become a monster.

“I don’t…I don’t understand you.” he said, frustrated. “The only thing that makes sense to me, how you can be this way, is because of the advantages you’ve been given over me. Incredulous as I am, let’s say for sake of argument that I believe you, that you truly didn’t accept the offer for selfish reasons, foolishly believing that I have it good. So what? You were willing to part with your privileges out of excess, willing to “save everyone” by suffering what I go through to satiate your ego, not because you actually care. Love doesn’t exist.”

“Yes, it does!” Twilight cried defensively. “I may not know much about you, but one thing I know for sure is that you wouldn’t be so messed up if you had been loved! I hate your personality, but I don’t hate you, your spirit! Even back when I thought you were destroyed for good, I didn’t enjoy the thought that I might have actually killed you! What I enjoyed was saving Equestria with my friends! I wanted to believe that no matter what happened, the power of love would be ingrained into your soul!”

“Key word being power.” Sombra rebutted in denial. “You and your friends are no better than I, one who did not even make an attempt on your lives. We are both just intelligent animals who fight over power for different reasons, nothing more, nothing less. I finally accepted the bitter truth that I could never win with the deck being unfairly stacked against me, thus I became you. And now that you are me, everything you say will only be the howl of a loser.”

“Aaawww, don’t beat yourself up.” Twilight taunted. “You only lose because of what you choose Sombra, nothing else. And I’m going to prove it. Even though I’m you right now, I’m not going to attempt to conquer Equestria, even as it would be so easy by combining my advanced knowledge of the land and alicorn magic with your dark magic. I just want you to hit me with your best shot. Give me all of your evil, and I’ll overcome it with good!”

Sombra stared at Twilight blankly for a moment, utterly astonished by her bluster. Soon, he began to chuckle…

“Heh heh heh…oh, I have no idea where you get your confidence from…but it entertains me so. Thus, I will call your bluff…”

Sombra then used his magic to levitate the coffee cup out of Twilight’s grasp and proceeded to throw it against her head. The cup shattered and Twilight briefly felt the searing pain of the shards and the hot fluid on her skin before she fell back on the bed unconscious.

“Hmph! And that’s only the beginning! That couldn’t have even hurt half as much as being disintegrated! You really want to know my agony? Even my best shot would never suffice! The physical discomfort doesn’t even compare to the mental torment!”

Sombra then shut his eyes and saw only black.

“And the spiritual turmoil…” he continued, opening his eyes again. “You have no clue, none. But sure, I’ll help you understand it all the best way I know how.”

Sombra already knew what he was going to do with Twilight now that she was in his body. He was going to make her go through everything he had suffered through, starting by solitarily confining her to a cage…

“I will have you know my solitude…”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 4: Confinement

For the second time that day, Twilight Sparkle found herself slowly awakening in a state of haziness.

“Ooohhh…” she groaned, still feeling pain from being struck by Sombra and knocked unconscious.

Slowly opening her eyes and blinking, she saw her faithful assistant, Spike, staring at her intently through a row of black bars.

“S-Spike?” she declared his name, startling the dragon.

“You know my name?!” he exclaimed in astonishment. “I never told you! Even if you overheard Rarity call my name back at the Empire, that was ages ago…yet you instantly recognized me! Are you telepathic?!”

“Ugh…” she grunted, pulling herself together and surveying her surroundings. “No…”

She was no longer in her bedroom, now inside an enchanted cage that suppressed her magic and her new ability to turn into a shadow in the throne room. Despite this, the wounds on her face had already healed, the cage not affecting her body’s innate ability of fast regeneration, being made of darkness. To the left of her were two royal guards conversing below stained glass portraits of crucial moments in Equestria’s history, and to the right, a view outside that showed the sun in a position that revealed the time of day to be some time in the late morning. Ahead of her were two more royal guards standing watch at the door of the throne room, and behind her, was the throne.

“Even if I did have the power to read minds,” continued the still dazed, princess-turned shadow king, “I don’t think I’d be in any state to do so right now…”

“I don’t believe you!” an insistent Spike retorted, clenching his fists. “You already have the power to show others their greatest fear and influence their minds! And I’ve seen this before in books and shows! Tales about ponies who go through near-death experiences and gain psychic powers!”

Twilight squinted her eyes, shooting Spike an unamused glare. In response, Spike began to sweat and rub his fingers together.

“Are…are you reading my mind right now?”

Twilight simply sighed.

“I really shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, I remember that time at the Equestria Games where you thought you could light things on fire with your mind…oh!”

Twilight realized her mistake too late, finding herself filled with embarrassment by Spike’s disturbed reaction, fearfully clutching his head with his hands.

“I WAS right! Oh, this is really, really bad! First, we have no idea how you even returned in the first place, and now you have paranormal superpowers?! How are we going to explain this to the public without sending them into a state of mass hysteria?!”

Twilight found herself sharing Spike’s trepidation, worriedly biting a front leg.

“What have I done?” she thought regretfully. “One little slip is all it took to throw my loyal companion in a state of complete panic and disarray! Something that could in turn, spread to my people! I have to be careful from now on! And I need to calm Spike down!”

Quickly improvising, Twilight decided to play along and act out the character of King Sombra to her best ability.

“How sad…” Twilight spoke in a haughty tone, pretending to mock him. “Back when you absconded the Crystal Heart from me, you were far more composed and dauntless than this, despite the fact that you were only a mere baby dragon in a far more perilous situation.”

Twilight’s ploy worked, as Spike’s look of fear was quickly replaced by one of anger.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he responded incisively. “Why don’t you try reading what I’m thinking now, jerk?”

“No need.” Twilight answered happily, confusing him. “I’m just glad my words reached you…” 


Spike was speechlessly puzzled, especially as Twilight continued to look at him with a genuinely serene smile.

“Are…are you making fun of me?”

A guard behind him, one of the stallions by the throne room door, sighed.

“Don’t you get it?” he interjected. “He’s psychologically toying with you. Don’t fall for it.”

“I wouldn’t, but…” Spike replied, his bemusement not subsiding.

Spike continued to observe Twilight’s sincerely joyful look and began thinking.

“The gaze from those eyes…it’s making me feel the exact opposite of how I did when Twilight stared at me early this morning after I brought her coffee. I don’t sense arrogance or coldness despite the fact that she just derided me…if anything, it feels like she was taunting me as a way to be cruel to be kind, goading me to pull myself together for the sake of others. But the Sombra I know would never do that…has he changed since the last time he returned?”  

Meanwhile, King Sombra as Twilight Sparkle was returning to the throne room after a late morning brunch, as a pony who was dressed in a waiter’s outfit and pushing a cart from behind followed him. He arrived close to the throne room doors before Spike decided to tell the guard what he felt.

“…Don’t you guys feel something…different about King Sombra?”

Overhearing this, an astonished Sombra stopped at the doors, holding out his right front leg to signal to the waiter to stop pushing the cart, a command he obeyed.

“What do you mean?” the guard replied in an uncertain tone.

“Just…something about his presence…it doesn’t have the same air of malice.”

“You’re imagining things. I used to be a guard for the Crystal Empire. I’ve had real experience dealing with ponies and other creatures who seemed to be nice before they turned out to be sociopathic marauders who engaged in larceny and kidnapping. I’ve heard enough stories about King Sombra to know that he’s nothing more than a blight on our land. Irredeemable scoundrel, he’ll never change.”

From outside, Sombra had to fight the urge to growl, finding comfort in the fact that Twilight was the one feeling the pain from that remark.

“Calm down…” he told himself in thought. “Remember, she’s the one who really suffers from this rancor from now on, ha ha…”

Upon hearing that as Sombra, Twilight felt a pain in her chest, her face contorting into an expression of great sorrow. Spike immediately noticed, further cementing what he suspected. Twilight soon found herself too upset to stay quiet and decided to ask the guard…

“What makes you so sure that I could never change?”

“Because you are rotten to the core, unlike most other foes our princess had to stand up against. Were there even a speck of good in you, we would have seen it by now. Instead, you have been obliterated. Twice. I’m sure the will of the light has made it perfectly clear by now that you are too far gone.”

“Moron…” Sombra said in thought, smiling sinisterly. “I am grateful for useful stupidity, however…”

Twilight thought deeply before she replied.

“I know his recollection of events is erroneous, but…even after Discord told me about what actually happened to Sombra, I didn’t fully believe it until I saw the proof with my own eyes…I have to tread carefully…to prove him wrong while keeping things in order, I have to do what I did with Spike and continue playing Sombra’s role!”

And so, Twilight began to rebut him the way she felt Sombra would, not knowing Sombra was listening from the outside…

“This is exactly why I’ve never cared for boorish military types…”

“Excuse me?” the guard responded in frustration.

““I’ve heard stories! The princess did this!” Is that all you formulate your judgment on?”

“I’ll have you know that I was there on the day you assaulted the Empire again…” the guard explained bitterly. “I used to be one of Princess Cadence’s heralds before she ascended, and I became a guard here after Princess Twilight graciously offered me a job.”

“Oh…” Twilight replied, maintaining a condescending tone as to not appear caught off guard. She also remembered how Spike presumed that she had the power to read minds simply from recalling his name. Not wanting to repeat her mistake, she asked…

“What is your name?”

“Snow Sentinel.” he answered unenthusiastically. “I don’t see why you would care to know after you flattened me so long ago…”

Twilight smirked confidently, the guard’s slip providing her with the perfect ammunition…

“So all of this contempt for me is simply a feeble, thinly veiled disguise for your insecurity…” she jeered, feigning mockery again with this rejoinder. “Sensing and controlling the fear of vulnerable ponies is my specialty. You are free to be honest with your emotions, given that I can already read you like an open book…”

“Then you should know that I’ve already been brutally honest with you this entire time…” Snow Sentinel retorted angrily. “And I’ll also add now that you never should’ve returned once, let alone twice. I hope that the next time you die, you STAY DEAD!”

This vitriolic exclamation drew the attention of the three other guards in the room and Spike, giving him unimpressed looks over his unprofessional outburst. Outside the throne room, Sombra couldn’t hold back his anger as well as he did the first time, stomping a hoof and gritting his teeth. Twilight, meanwhile, was surprised and hurt, feeling her plan worked too well.

“Dude…” Spike told Snow, his tone one of disappointment. “That’s going too far…you need to calm down. Twilight told me once that she never intended for that light she and her friends made to kill Sombra…and that even if he was actually dead, she only hoped that he was now remorseful, finding peace in a better place…” 

Sombra was shocked once he heard this from behind the doors, shock that grew once he also heard similar comments of disapproval from the other guards about how Snow needed to control his temper. Eventually, Snow yielded with a sigh.

“Please forgive me…” he apologized, sounding sincere. “It’s really myself I’m mad at for failing the princess that day, not Sombra…and I also felt that after so many defeats, death would mean little to an apparently immortal shadow king…”

Despite still feeling mental pain, Twilight saw another opportunity to seize with her act as Sombra, one that would also help alleviate her discomfort.

“Death is indeed of minute consequence to me.” she solemnly confirmed his thoughts. “However, my immortality is also just as you put it, apparent. I have never actually been resurrected from the dead, only brought back from banishment. The first time after I initially came back from my Northern ice prison, it was from the ether, the second time, from the moon.”

“What?!” Spike and every guard cried in unison.

Sombra had the same reaction in thought from outside.

“It’s true.” she continued to explain, smiling a serene smile once again. “I’m sure you’re glad you put me in this enchanted cage now instead of outright killing me and justifying it with some piffle about how, “It’s what our princess would’ve wanted!”. I’ll take it none of you have ever killed before, have you? So you’re just like me…”

Spike and the guards were spooked.

“None of us told him the cage was enchanted…” the guards thought nervously. “He hasn’t even attempted to cast a single spell to try and escape…maybe Spike was right…not just about him having telepathy, but about him being different altogether!”

“I knew something was off from the start…” Spike thought, equally anxious. “Sombra really has changed…enough to give him the confidence to tell us personal information like this without fear of it backfiring on him…”

Sombra became filled with anxiety as well, though his was largely stemming from bewilderment.

“Why is she disclosing such things to them?! All this serves to do is establish me as a pony they can sympathize with! What good are sentiments of pity to a great shadow lord such as I? Unless…”

Sombra gave it more thought, Twilight’s motive for humanizing the pony they thought he was, before coming to a conclusion…

“So even as Equestria’s greatest nemesis, she intends to overcome this hurdle by playing nice. She refuses to be evil despite knowing that trying to be her “good self” will only make the situation worse. She plans to win through being cruel to be kind…”

Sombra then turned his head around to look back at the food on the cart, all the dishes that were covered, before he smiled cockily.

“Unfortunately for you…” he continued to think. “I’ve already planned my victory through being kind to be cruel…”

“Your Highness,” interjected the waiter, “I do not mean to show disrespect, but I was wondering when you intended to magnanimously share these delicacies with your heralds. I only say this out of concern for the food becoming congealed from us waiting too long, spoiling your treat for them. Additionally, I wish to prepare your lunch for after your meeting with Princess Flurry Heart as soon as I possibly can.”

“I understand your concern entirely, good servant.” Sombra complimented him, feigning diplomacy similar to how Twilight feigned discourtesy. “Though I will remark that I am already well-prepared for what will follow after that meeting…”

Sombra snickered to himself in thought, thinking of a brown journal that contained an elaborate, devious scheme of his…

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 5: Remembering Friends  

Heh heh heh…

King Sombra continued snickering to himself in thought, musing over his plans written in the book.

“Prepare yourself, Twilight…” he said in thought before he finally opened the doors to the throne room with magic, the waiter behind him following with the cart. “The same kindness you used to destroy me is now coming for you…”

Spike and the guards, despite still feeling nervous from their discussion with Sombra, immediately perked up upon hearing the doors open behind them. The guards in front of the door had moved out of the way while the doors had slowly opened, allowing Sombra and the waiter to escort themselves in.

“Princess Twilight!” Spike exclaimed.

“Your Majesty!” the guards called out to her formally.

“We hope you had a good brunch Twilight,” said Spike politely despite his unsettlement, “but there’s something you should know about Sombra. He’s-”

“Behaving differently?” Sombra blithely interjected, smiling, surprising Spike, the guards, and Twilight.

“Um…yeah.” Spike replied bemusedly. “How did you know?”

“I overheard everything from behind the doors.” Sombra answered. “Forgive me for eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help it, given the situation. One of Equestria’s greatest villains has returned for a reason we are all none the wiser to, and Celestia only knows what he could be saying to influence my subjects while I’m away.”

“…What is he up to?” an instantly suspicious Twilight thought with a grimace on her face. 

“It’s not so much what he’s saying that worries me…” Snow Sentinel interjected. “It’s the way he’s saying it. It’s obvious he doesn’t fear us. He’s admitting his vulnerabilities to us in a jovial manner, presumably because he’s just that confident in his belief that we’re vulnerable.”

“Oh, I heard it all…” Sombra replied in a sickly sweet tone.

“You pathetic weakling…” he said in thought, remembering how Snow slighted him earlier. “By way of revenge, I’m going to make ponies like you a LOT weaker…”

“But don’t worry.” he continued, pretending to comfort him and the others. “Later today, I intend to discuss with Princess Flurry Heart my plans on how to protect you and all of my loyal subjects from this odious beast.”

“The vile beast you’re referring to has ears.” an unamused Twilight interjected with a rejoinder. “Regardless, I’ll assume you’re not so stupid as to divulge your plans to your subjects in front of me and instead, ask why you’ve chosen to imprison me rather than kill me.”

“Watch out, Twilight!” Spike cried out in way of warning. “He can read minds now!”

“So I’ve heard.” Twilight responded nonchalantly, going along with the charade, seeing it as a benefit to her plans. “But fear not, for I have already cast a magic spell on myself to protect my mind from his influences. No mean to spoil what I have in store, but I’ll give you a clue that the way I intend to defend Equestria from this menace is to…endow them with such magic…”

Sombra’s grin widened as he saw Twilight’s unamused look become a concerned look.

“You already know now why I’m keeping you alive, ha ha ha…”

“You already have a plan to protect us?!” Spike exclaimed in pleasant astonishment. “You’re a genius! What would we ever do without you?”

“Nothing of monumental consequence, I assure you.” Sombra answered pompously, leading Spike and the guards to give him looks of unpleasant astonishment. “I jest, I jest, but you must appreciate the fact that without a benevolent ruler such as I to watch over you, you’d be doomed.”  

“Of course, we appreciate everything you do for us…” Spike replied hesitantly. “But we also need to be able to take care of ourselves.”

“Those who do not work do not deserve to eat, the saying goes.” Sombra quoted an old-fashioned adage to divert their attention away from his tasteless pleasantry and toward the cart of food. “But I feel that after what you lot have had to go through today, the stress of coping with a dangerous villain’s return, you’ve earned yourself a spot of lunch, no?”

Sombra then waved his front leg to direct the waiter, who had previously been checking a timer in his pocket, to take the gray lids off the plates of food and reveal what the kitchen had prepared.

“Woah…” Spike and the guards reacted in awe as they stared at all the delicacies.

The cart of food had everything they could’ve dreamed of sinking their teeth into sitting right in front of them, including rolls of fresh bread, hors d’oeuvres like vegan deviled eggs, premium salads and soups, fresh fruit, hay burgers, vegetarian pot roast, vegetarian seafood, and freshly baked pastries like eclairs.

“All this is just from brunch?!” Snow cried in amazement.  

“Today is a day of a special meeting, so I may have gone a little bit overboard with my orders to the kitchen, ho ho.” Sombra explained with a chuckle. “I was thinking of my loyal servants then too, how they don’t usually get to indulge in such an exquisite cuisine. I also knew, of course, that they wouldn’t want me to hoard a big buffet like this to myself and grow fat.”

“How long did it take to make all this?” one guard asked.

“Not long, with my good staff hard at work.” Sombra gave a compliment that led the waiter to bow. “Still, pardon me for not returning sooner. I know you always want more of me, but I didn’t come with fries and a drink.”

This pleasantry of Sombra’s went much better with Spike and the guards, leading them to laugh.

“Ha ha ha ha ha!” they chortled.

“Don’t worry, I don’t mind the hay burgers by themselves!” one guard exclaimed, not getting the joke.

Twilight, by contrast, was not amused by the joke in the first place.

Is he actually trying to call me fat?” she thought in frustration. “Or imply that my subjects are only interested in food?”

“She likely doesn’t know…” Sombra thought, judging from Twilight’s appearance of disapproval. “But the way I intend to humiliate her here is not by acting as if she and the princesses are literally corpulent, rather by exposing the excess they could easily part with at the benefit of their feeble-minded servants. Of course, that’s only part of my intention. Oh, I’m all too ready to serve her the main course…” 

“I believe you asked me earlier about why I am keeping you alive.” he told her. “I’m sure you already have guessed, considering the way our last encounter went, that it is not out of clemency. Depending on how my discussion with Flurry Heart goes, this may very well be the last meal you witness.”

“What?!” Twilight cried in shock.

“…” Spike and the guards silently looked at the two in surprise.

“Just be grateful I’m at least going to talk things over and get a second opinion before obliterating you completely.” he said with a smile and a wink. “It’s only a possibility we’ll come up with a way to vanquish you for good this time. For now…”

Sombra levitated one of the hay burgers with magic before walking towards the throne, sitting on it and putting his hind legs up on Twilight’s cage.

“Enjoy my servants partaking in a meal fit for a real king.” he derided her, taking a bite out of the burger. “Because it just might be your last meal. Granted, it’s one you don’t get to actually have, but at least it will allow you to dream…bwa ha ha!”

“P-princess…” Snow interjected. “Doesn’t this strike you as a bit too…cruel?”

“How is this crueler than burning him alive?” Sombra immediately retorted with a stern frown.

“Swift death to evil is entirely different than torture…” Snow answered.

“Not to mention that you’re acting like you’re enjoying this…” Spike interjected, growing even more suspicious of this uncharacteristic behavior. “You always told me that you wished the best for Sombra no matter what happened to him…”

“Pfft.” Sombra responded dismissively, even as he knew he couldn’t break character despite his disbelief. “That doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun with him…”

He couldn’t deny though, the fact that when he overheard Spike say this to a similar effect earlier, part of him wanted to believe it…

He also noticed that it was not just Spike and Snow objecting verbally, none of the guards had touched the food. Every single one of his subjects, including the waiter, was giving him a glance of either confusion, displeasure, or both.

“This is…unprecedented…” Sombra thought in puzzlement. “Why is it that not a single one of them desires to experience joy at the expense of one they hate?”

Knowing that he had to change up his strategy, Sombra put the hay burger down on one of the throne handles.

“Alright.” he said begrudgingly. “I’ll offer him some bread.”

He then levitated a roll of bread with his magic and hovered it above Twilight’s cage. He then gave Twilight, who was blankly staring at him, an admonishing look.

“Aren’t you going to beg me for this?”

“You know I’m too prideful for that.” Twilight answered solemnly. “This brings back painful memories from when I was a colt, a time when I would have to sometimes go without food.”

Everyone in the room was shocked by her words, especially Sombra.

“How…how did you know…?” he thought, dismayed.   

“It seems he doesn’t realize that I have my resources, most notably a helpful sister-in-law who showed me some old journal entries of his…” Twilight thought, happy she had done her homework.

“Why so surprised?” she then asked. “Have any of you ever considered the possibility that maybe…there’s a reason why I’m like this?”

“Of…of course I…” Sombra tried to answer, but found getting the words out difficult, for he had been put in an unexpectedly difficult spot.

“I didn’t foresee this…” he thought worriedly. “If I tell her that I have, it will make my subjects suspect my true intentions for treating them to that buffet even more. But if I deny it, that dragon will find it inconsistent with what she supposedly told him about wishing the best for me. Either way, I’m going to look suspicious, and I need their full trust for my plan! Come on, think, think…”

In a haste, Sombra thought up a lie, realizing exactly what he needed for his next act of chicanery. A mix of a yes answer and a no answer…

“Of course, I’ve thought about it once or twice in the past…” he finally continued. “I just never expected you, of all villains, to be the kind that had to grow up knowing what it was like to be hungry. That’s more what I expected from an evildoer like Queen Chrysalis.”

“It is indeed uncanny, considering the kind of body I possess now.” Twilight replied. “I enjoy the taste of food, but I do not need it to survive now, being made of shadow. Regardless, even offering me freshly peeled grapes and a slice of cake would hardly be due recompense for how you loathsome princesses neglected starving orphans like myself.”

Once again, all else in the room were taken aback by her words. Sombra was stunned, hating to admit that he was impressed by how well Twilight actually understood what inspired him to feign an expression of charity in the form of food, while Spike and the guards were disconcerted and horrified by what had been suggested.

“That’s a lie!” Snow Sentinel exclaimed defensively. “No princess would ever do such a thing, not even one from a darker time in the past!”

“Twilight, don’t tell me you’re just going to sit there and take that!” Spike proclaimed angrily. “You have to tell him off for that! You have to tell him that’s not true!”

“Gah! Are you kidding me?!” Sombra thought furiously. “This is an even worse position I’ve been put in than earlier! They’re definitely going to doubt me if I don’t call something like THAT a lie! The repulsive behavior of these self-serving elites, I have to pretend it isn’t real, what made me who I am! Blast you, Twilight Sparkle!”

“I…I…” Sombra stumbled over his words, struggling to control his emotions.

He remembered being an unloved colt, a memory flashing through his mind of a time where he was sitting in a grassy field by himself with nothing to eat and no friends to talk to. He then remembered how Twilight was the princess of friendship, never knowing what it was like to be denied nourishment or having to be alone. At that point, he couldn’t take it anymore, not when sorrow began mingling with his anger. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he lost his temper.

“I’VE HAD IT!” he shouted, slamming his front hooves down on the cage. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE-”

Just then, he was interrupted by the sound of a timer in the waiter’s pocket going off. The startled servant quickly grabbed the timer and stopped it.

“Please pardon me, Your Majesty.” the waiter interjected politely, still maintaining courtesy even as he was worried by Twilight’s outburst. “But I must return to the kitchen immediately. Not only need I maintain promptitude, but I do not wish for a late lunch to contribute to your mounting distress on top of your important meeting.” 

Upset as he was, Sombra knew he had to regain his composure and apologize.

“No, it is I who should ask to be pardoned.” he said remorsefully. “Excuse me for overreacting, all of you. I just need to be alone right now.”

He anxiously got up from the throne and left to head for Twilight’s room, while the waiter returned to the kitchen. He had left the cart of food for Spike and the guards, planning to use another one for the lunch course, but Spike and the guards had no clue how they could muster an appetite after that.

“Is this…really Twilight?” Spike asked, more concerned than ever now.

“Spike…” Snow then attempted to comfort the dragon with a nervous smile on his face. “I’m…sure it’s just stress gradually built up from everything going on today like the waiter mentioned. I wouldn’t presume that she’s acting this way because she’s hiding something from us…”

“Denial…” Twilight interjected, shaking her head in disappointment. “Tyranny is only possible if a corrupt despot’s subjects allow it, becoming complicit in deceiving themselves and others.”

“You would know…” Snow appropriately retorted.

“Of course I do.” Twilight took the comeback she anticipated. “I was nothing but cruel to my slaves, for all I knew was cruelty. The only ones who were ever truly nice to me, they left my life. There’s a reason why I’ve been able to handle this all so calmly…”

Snow and Spike would previously have assumed the reason was because he had a plan to escape and conquer Equestria again, but once they saw Twilight shed a tear in the cage, they began to believe otherwise…

“It’s because even if I die here…” Twilight continued as that tear touched the ground. “I’ll get to see my friends again…” 

Spike and all of the guards felt a transient moment of pity for the one they thought to be Sombra, and a sense of understanding that would stick with them. Evil as Sombra was, they knew for certain now that even he longed for friendship. This sense of understanding would forever be with Twilight too, now that she fully comprehended the extent of his solitude…

“I miss them…” she said somberly in thought, thinking of the stars in the sky her five closest friends had become. “However, this is part of the punishment I brought on myself for not appreciating what I had…I didn’t appreciate my friends enough before they left me…and now I know what it’s like to be a pony who has been without a friend for a thousand years…”

Twilight also knew from the journal her sister-in-law showed her that Sombra only had one close friend, a heliotrope mare with blue hair that Sombra had been thinking about in Twilight’s room. He hadn’t forgotten Radiant Hope…or what he had written in his journal from the past…

However, as that image of his journal flashed through his mind, it was quickly replaced by an image of his new journal from the present, the one where his plans were transcribed. He made the brown book appear on Twilight’s bed with magic and began flipping through the pages, in which he had not only written his plans, but made two drawings. One drawing depicted the Crystal Heart shining in its pedestal with Sombra in the center of a crowd of crystal ponies and a pair of green eyes ominously floating in the sky. The other one depicted Sombra as an alicorn, surrounded by five lights and grinning evilly as he blasted a magical beam at an agonized Twilight…

“There’s no turning back at this point…” he said in a dark tone of voice. “Twilight’s destiny is to experience both of my demises for herself, just as it is now my destiny to experience her divine bestowals for myself. Soon, I shall ascend. Soon, I shall be the one passing judgment on her. And in the end, I shall finally know true bliss as I bask in my most glorious victory…”

Meanwhile, in a realm belonging to the star that had brought Twilight and Sombra to this dimension…

“To win in the end…” the star mused solemnly. “What does that truly mean? What good is it to triumph over your adversary if you haven’t first conquered yourself?”

The star asked this question with full sincerity, reminiscing over his time as a pony in a realm where King Sombra won in the end, defeating Twilight and her friends.

“Fail to conquer yourself,” continued the star, “and no matter what the outcome of the battle, you will lose the war once you collapse in on yourself. And after that, it is only the grace of a friend that can save you, revive you again. That friend who truly cared about you…is part of her destiny now too…”

A cloaked pony walked through the streets of the Crystal Empire forebodingly… 

“That star called me here from a dimension where I saved Sombra from the darkness along with the help of the princesses…” she thought. “And now that he has enhanced the power of my light magic with dark magic, it is my duty to save him once again, on my own…”

This pony knew who Sombra and Twilight were now…and she also knew something the star had not disclosed to either of them…a shocking truth that would change both of their views of reality for eternity…

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  • 4 weeks later...

Pre-finale chapter! 

Chapter 6: Destiny and Decisions

The star, still in the realm belonging to him, mused over the shocking truth Twilight Sparkle and King Sombra would have to accept. Memories of Sombra’s tyranny in the dimension he had come from flashed through his mind...

In that dimension, after Discord had brought Sombra back, and was goading on Twilight and her friends to not rely on his help to defeat him in Princess Celestia and Luna’s throne room, Sombra took advantage of a moment of vulnerability to transform Discord into stone and shatter him into pieces. It was when he took a hit for Fluttershy that something happened that even the lord of chaos did not anticipate…Sombra knew of petrification spells. The blast he took expecting to be harmless was actually a stoning spell, one that instantly turned him into a statue. Firing another magical blast, Sombra caused the draconequus to shatter. Twilight and her friends, mortified, lost all will to fight. With no motivation to unlock their latent inner strength and their safety net gone, they quickly fell to the shadow king, unable to resist his mind control. Equestria was enslaved and evil triumphed. The darkness had found victory over the light…

“…And then what?” the star asked ominously. “Do the wicked truly win in the end even when they succeed in their conquests in the material world?”

The star had told the story of how his dimension fell to Sombra to Radiant Hope. Like Twilight and Sombra, Hope only knew the star as a nameless soul she could see and sense. However, she immediately empathized with him, even as she didn’t want to believe that Sombra was capable of being purely evil, even in an alternate dimension. Thus, words of consolation she gave to the star were followed by the question…

“If Twilight and her friends had succeeded in defeating Sombra…would he have been reformed?”

“No.” the star bluntly answered. “He would have appeared to have been destroyed as their light of friendship banished him to the moon.”

Radiant Hope was taken aback in discomfort, naturally convulsing in disapproval. Even knowing what the star had been through, she couldn’t withhold her disdain for the alternative.

“Worry not.” the unphased star told her. “I do not condemn you for reviling in disgust at the prospect of your friend’s demise. However, that is the fate the will of the light decided for him. To no longer exist bodily in the material world, but to exist within the moon among the stars. Cruel as that may seem, you must wonder…what is Sombra’s prison, truly? What do you feel is the worst fate he could meet?”

“To be lost forever in the darkness, alone.” Hope immediately replied solemnly.

“And the fate the light decided for him still saved him from that.” the star explained, surprising Hope. “It was the will of the light for Sombra to meet with Twilight’s friends after they ceased to exist physically. Twilight and her friends can’t force Sombra to become good, and even freed, Sombra still knows the pain of solitude. He also knows the pain of guilt, subconsciously longing to pay penance for his actions. That is why the light punishes him, to teach him and mend his soul. It’s no different than in your world. You save Sombra from his loneliness before you embark on a journey with him to restore the princess he shattered and right his wrong from the past.”

“Do you…know of what fate the light has decided for Sombra in the world you transported him to with Twilight?” Hope asked curiously.

“I can not foretell the future, I’m afraid.” the star answered. “No one knows for sure what the will of the light will decide, for it is the actions of those who serve the light that ultimately decide its course. The will of the light has an incredible destiny planned for all of us…if we want it.”

“So…” a worried Hope responded. “What would happen if it turned out that Sombra didn’t want it?”

“It would not mean the end for him.” the star said to assuage her. “Trust me, I was in the same position as he was once. “The end” is not what you think.”

Something started to dawn on Hope…

“I see…” she replied. “Don’t worry, I believe you. I’m not afraid anymore to do what’s right, even if it may hurt the one I love in the moment.”

“Then I shall entrust you with the greatest magic I know…” he said happily, glowing brighter than before.

Hope was reminiscing on the conversation she had leading up to her agreement to help the star as she arrived at the part of the Crystal Empire where the Crystal Heart was held in in its pedestal. A large crowd of Crystal Ponies had gathered around in a circle where Twilight Sparkle, in the form of King Sombra, laid in the center, still confined to a locked cage. Above, Princess Flurry Heart and Sombra, in the form of Twilight Sparkle, were watching from the balcony of the royal palace, smiling down on the Empire’s residents below.

“Citizens of the Empire!” Flurry exclaimed innocently. “It is with great honor that I present to you this opportunity…to decide the fate of our oldest and most feared foe, King Sombra!”

The Crystal Ponies began to chatter incomprehensibly among themselves, confused, surprised, and excited.

“As some of you may already know,” interjected Sombra as Twilight slyly, “King Sombra mysteriously returned in my palace this morning, acting rather strangely. After much discussion between myself, my subjects, and your gracious ruler, my niece, we have decided to leave his fate in your hooves.”

This speech intensified the excitement of the Crystal Ponies, many of them exuberant by the rush of feeling a greater sense of purpose. Sombra’s sly smile grew wider, their response to his rhetoric being exactly what he expected…

“Gullible fools…” he thought smugly. “I knew this was the ideal way to gaslight them…by making them believe that they’re choosing this…”

Earlier that day, when Flurry Heart was at Twilight’s palace…

During their discussion, Sombra had agreed to allow Flurry a chance to speak to Twilight upon request. Walking with her to the throne room, he opened the doors to where the friendship princess in the body of the shadow king was still detained. Impulsively, Snow Sentinel saluted his former princess along with the other guards.

“Here he is.” Sombra told her, swallowing his jealousy for Twilight getting treatment he had not received.

Twilight immediately perked up when she heard the doors open and looked ahead to see her niece, smirking at her.

“Flurry Heart?” she said impulsively.

“Sombra!” she answered cheekily, slowly approaching him. “You’re a sight for sore eyes! I never thought I’d see you again, especially under circumstances like these!”

“You’re awfully chipper for a pony meeting a detested despot who assaulted you, your family, and your homeland when you were an infant.” Twilight replied bemusedly as Flurry reached her cage.

“Aren’t I?” Flurry retorted, maintaining a tongue-in-cheek tone of voice as she brought her head down to her level. “Though being a villain, you should consider the possibility that the reason I’m so happy to see you again is because I’ve finally been given the opportunity for some PAYBACK!”

Putting a loud emphasis on that word, Flurry booped Twilight’s snout with her front hoof.

“What are you doing?” an even more perplexed Twilight responded to Flurry rubbing her snout with her hoof.

“You don’t recall?” Flurry replied with a scoff. “I know what you did, even though I was just a baby!”

“You can’t expect me to remember every minor act of villainy I’ve committed.” Twilight told her solemnly, instinctively acting as Sombra would as Flurry pulled her hoof away. “The truly reprehensible acts are what haunt my mind.”

“Shall I take that as a show of remorse?” Flurry asked inquisitively.

“What if it was?” Twilight responded, also inquiring.

“Because I am of the belief that you are not beyond redemption.” Flurry answered sweetly and sincerely, leading Twilight, Spike, Snow, and Sombra to look at her intently. “And although my aunt and I are not in full agreement of how your fate should be decided, we’ve worked out a compromise I hope you will find reasonable.”

“What are you proposing?” Twilight asked curiously.

“What we’re offering is to bring you back to the Crystal Empire.” Flurry explained, surprising Twilight, Spike, and Snow. “From that point on, we’ll allow my subjects to decide your fate with the light and love within them.”

“What?!” Twilight exclaimed in shock, reminded of Sombra’s first defeat in the Empire. “Wouldn’t that destroy me? What makes you think that I would find that reasonable?”

“I’m not finished explaining.” Flurry continued. “Not only is there the possibility that you’ll be reformed…what gave me the idea to do this is something the Crystal Heart showed me regarding your destiny.”

“And that is?”

“It was a vision of you among five lights…transformed into an alicorn.”

This made Twilight, Spike, and Snow flabbergasted as one of the guards fainted from shock. Sombra, on the other hand, briefly flashed a sinister smile.

“Five lights…no…it couldn’t be…” Twilight thought in terror.

“I know.” Flurry interjected, noticing her shock. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it either, but the will of the light works in mysterious ways. It can’t be a coincidence that I was shown such a thing on the day you mysteriously returned.”

“So you’re willing to risk me obtaining divine power at the risk of my life,” replied a still disbelieving Twilight attempting to express her skepticism like Sombra would, “just to affirm a vision from this artificial entity called “the will of the light”?”

“I didn’t expect you to understand it,” answered Flurry solemnly, “for you are only a mortal deceived by the will of the void. It’s not actually a gamble between your destruction or your evolution to a higher plane of existence. Neither of us are actually risking anything, since there is no “may or may not happen”. This is just your destiny that the will of the light has ordained. This fact is immutable, yet you have a choice. It doesn’t even have to be either/or. Even if the light and love from my subjects were to destroy you again, you could be saved by your belief in the grace of a friend to revive you once more...possibly as an alicorn.”

After a moment of silence, Twilight began to realize something…

“Oh no, Flurry…” she thought somberly. “I understand EXACTLY what’s going on. You’re just like me. It’s not just that you have complete faith in the will of the light…you also refuse to hate Sombra’s soul despite everything he’s done. You too don’t want him to writhe in torment forever.”

Twilight then decided to express these sentiments the way she felt Sombra would.

“I know you’re not stupid. For sure, you have a safety net. Would that happen to be complete confidence in your strength, believing you could defeat me, even with me as an alicorn, or would it be faith in there being good in me?”

“Neither.” Flurry replied bluntly with a smile. “I just have complete confidence in the will of the light. That is the safety net for both myself, my subjects, and all of Equestria. You have yet to comprehend the guiding principles of our nation, thus why you don’t understand why we can’t be intimidated by you. For even if your darkness prevails, you can not erase our light of love and hope.”

“We’ll see about that, you fool…” Sombra thought condescendingly and confidently. “If you are all truly so dense, my victory is all but guaranteed…”

Sombra briefly flashed another sinister smirk, which Twilight caught.

“Sombra isn’t in the least bit nervous about the possibility of me becoming an alicorn version of him…” she pondered curiously. “That conniving creep. He must have some kind of scheme in store for that event. I can only begin to guess what it is though…why would he not fear me becoming immortal? Is it because he’s already immortal himself now in my body? Or maybe…”

Twilight realized something that she had never thought about before.

“That’s right…I never did question how he was able to return to destroy the Tree of Harmony after we blasted him with the magic of the Elements of Harmony. I always just assumed Discord brought him back again after that infamous revelation of his, but even when we last talked, he never said anything about reviving him after that particular defeat. The way he looked like he had been disintegrated then…something that actually brought him to the Tree of Harmony…it’s like how my friends once told me that it looked like I had been disintegrated when I was blasted with the Elements back when I became a…no way…he obviously couldn’t be an alicorn…but is he already immortal?! Not just as me, but as himself too?!”

“I can tell she’s thought it over…” Sombra presumed in thought, judging from an astonished expression on Twilight’s face. “Searched for a reason as to why I would do this with knowledge of that possibility…but only I can know for sure why your fate is sealed regardless of what happens…for we have not just switched bodies, but destinies as well…”

Twilight did subconsciously know that this was the reason things were playing out as such…yet she also wanted to know what it had been like for Sombra to be banished…

“So Sombra…” Flurry spoke softly. “I believe we have given you enough time to think it over. We don’t want to force you to confront your destiny, but we need an answer. What is your decision?”

“I’ll go.” Twilight answered solemnly with a bow. “I’m not afraid of death.”

It was in that moment that Snow and Spike, after also seeing the way she had reacted with complete disinterest by the prospect of gaining more power as an alicorn, knew for sure there was good in this pony they saw as Sombra. And so, as Flurry and Sombra prepared to depart with this caged pony, Snow saluted both his leaders and Twilight, whom he looked at with a smile before telling her with a wink…

“I wish you the best.”

“We know you’re on the right track.” Spike also said in encouragement. “And something tells me you can get another pony back on the right track too.”

Flurry smiled sweetly at Snow bowing to her as she left with Sombra while levitating Twilight in her cage. Sombra, however, simply hid an envious scowl as he walked ahead.

“I’ll be the judge of who’s on the right track from now on…” he thought menacingly. “After all, I’m the true arbiter of her fate…”

In the present, at the Crystal Empire, Sombra remained confident of the fact that it was only he who knew and could truly decide Twilight’s ultimate fate in this moment. The Crystal Ponies, riled up from his speech, turned to the one they thought was him in the cage.

“So…ready to eat our dust again?” a cocky pony remarked in a mean-spirited tone. “I’d hope so, considering you’ve become dust before!”

Twilight gulped with a despondent but accepting look on her face.

“Yes…I’m ready.” she replied succinctly, taking the taunt without resistance.

“Bah, you’re no fun!” the arrogant pony retorted, frustrated, turning their head away. “Why’d you come back in the first place if you were just going to die a loser’s death like this without a fight?”

Those words wounded Twilight’s feelings more, making her doubt herself ever slightly. Thankfully, another Crystal Pony’s response to the one jeering her quickly restored her faith…

“Um…it could be because he wants to atone now? You heard that he’s been acting strangely since he returned…don’t you think that could be the reason?”  

This led Twilight to remember what Snow and Spike had told her before she was brought here…

“That’s right…” she recalled in thought, regaining hope. “Spike and Snow Sentinel believed in me even though they fought against Sombra to save the Empire. By being the best Sombra I could be, I won over their faith in me. If I could get them out of all my subjects to believe in Sombra, that proves what I knew the whole time. I can defy Sombra’s supposed destiny to be shunned and despised…and so long as others believe in me, I can defy his supposed destiny to be destroyed too!”

“I do want to atone…” she interjected in response to the Crystal Pony’s suggestion, standing up and speaking with vigor. “At any cost, even my life!”

This exclamation shocked the crowd, leading many to gasp, surprising even Flurry and Sombra. A familiar cloaked pony’s attention was also caught, and thus she began preparing a spell…

“You heard me!” she continued her dauntless declaration. “I want you to decide my fate by channeling every ounce of light and love within you into the Crystal Heart! Give me ALL of it!”

The one who previously taunted her was now impressed, giving her a clap. The one who suggested the possibility of expiation earlier now fully believed in her, as did many more in the crowd. Without even thinking about it, they began giving their light and love to the Crystal Heart, which began growing brighter. Flurry Heart grew more excited by the event that was unfolding while Sombra was growing more nervous…

“I was not expecting this…” he worriedly told himself in his mind. “Has Twilight gone past fear, accepted her destruction? Or is this…?”

Hope, having finished casting a spell, vanished with a flash of light that came from the Crystal Heart after it had finished powering up from the Crystal Ponies’ magic. Immediately, the crowd looked to where the one they saw as the shadow king stood…and saw nothing on the floor of the cage but a scorch mark in the shape of a star with steam rising from it. Bewildered and unsure of what had just happened, the crowd fell silent. Flurry was none the wiser, staring blankly below while Sombra simply scoffed to himself in thought…

“As if this isn’t just another contingency I was ready for…to think I almost broke a sweat a second ago…with these ponies in a state of confusion and uncertainty, I can easily move on with my plan to manipulate and weaken them…”

A pair of green eyes glowed above the Empire ominously…

“She’s already an alicorn…” a dark force thought. “Where’s he?”

Simultaneously, this pair of green eyes also glowed above Twilight in the ethereal realm she had been transported to. No longer in the form of Sombra, she now appeared as her ordinary self, looking around as she walked on a trail of blue light, observing a perturbingly familiar realm…

“This…” she said uncomfortably, noticing stars among patterns of colored lights in a realm that looked like outer space. “This is where I was brought…before Princess Celestia made me an alicorn…”

“And it’s also where Sombra was brought…” Hope, her head not covered by her cloak, spoke from behind. “After you and your friends used the Elements of Harmony on him…”

“Who’s there?” Twilight asked in surprise, immediately turning around to see Radiant Hope following her. “How do you know something like that?”  

“Because the star that brought you and Sombra to that alternate world told me.” Hope explained. “This is the realm of his soul, and every part of that alternate world is his creation.”

“Why would something like this…” an astonished and nervous Twilight replied. “…a key part of my destiny…be in the realm of his soul?”

“Why would it not be?” Hope responded, unphased by Twilight’s bewilderment. “The mark of your destiny, displayed by your cutie mark, is a pattern of stars representing you and your friends. And when you and your friends banished Sombra to the moon, his destiny to meet your friends as stars became reality…”

“Who…who are you?” a flabbergasted Twilight asked on impulse. “Who is the star?”

“I am Radiant Hope,” she answered, “a friend of Sombra’s in another dimension. The star appeared to me just as he appeared to you, an unknown entity. He has divulged no special knowledge of his identity to me, only a special power. A power even greater than friendship…the power of hope. That power is the only thing that can save both you and Sombra…from that…”

Hope pointed a foreleg to direct Twilight’s attention at the green eyes hovering above…

“What is…” Twilight prepared to ask.

“That is an avatar of the will of the void.” Hope interjected to explain. “Even with a destiny of light, Sombra still carries out its will, disguising darkness as light. Whatever had happened to you, he was going to use it as a way to manipulate the citizens of Equestria into surrendering their free will to him. For his own sake, you must help me stop him from conquering the world.”

“But how?!” Twilight cried.

“Learn the power of faith.” Hope answered. “Accept the truth as I did…you’ll know who the star is…”

Twilight thought long and hard. She knew that the source of her faith was her friends…and she remembered how terrified she was when she learned of the vision of Sombra surrounded by five lights…and then it hit her. Only through facing that fear would she be able to accept the truth…

“I think I already know who the star is…” she said solemnly. “Now…I just have to confront reality…”

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  • 1 month later...

The conclusion! 

Chapter 7: Faith in Light and Darkness

It’s finally time for them to discover the greatest magic of all…

The star thought this to himself as he sensed the presence of Twilight Sparkle and Radiant Hope inside the realm of his soul. Having overheard Twilight’s admission of her need to confront reality, he began to speak to her inside of her mind.

“Are you truly ready to overcome your fears?” he asked her.

“That voice…” Twilight replied inside her mind. “It’s you, isn’t it? I guess now that I’m inside of your soul, you can speak to me telepathically.”

“Given that you’re no longer surprised by your current situation, I’ll take it you are ready.” he stated.

“Not really, if I’m being honest.” she confessed. “If anything, I’m terrified.”

“I appreciate your honesty.” the star complimented Twilight for admitting her fear. “Fear is not only something we must appreciate as a natural emotion, we must also appreciate it as the antithesis of faith. Fear and faith are like darkness and light, where one can not exist without the other. You’d never be able to learn the power of hope without first understanding the power of fear.”

“The power of fear…” Twilight responded, musing over something she recalled. “I find it interesting how King Sombra’s dark magic is related to fear…while I’ve always seen my magic of friendship as something that gives other ponies a reason to have faith…”

“True, opposites attract as they say, though it is not just your friendship that gives them a reason for that faith.” the star explained. “It is also fear. Faith would be meaningless if there was no reason to be afraid of the unknown. However, what you fear isn’t the unknown. What you fear is the inability to face a painful truth…the fact that your friendship could be corrupted and used against you.”

Twilight shuddered, convulsing and shutting her eyes as if she was about to cry.

“You read me like an open book…” she told him despondently. “I’m not scared about what might happen to me…I’m scared about what might happen to my friends in my own dimension. I know in my heart that I deserve to be punished for not appreciating them enough…but my friends don’t deserve…”

“If your friends don’t deserve punishment, then the will of the light will not allow them to be punished.” the star assured her. “And the will of the light shall also not allow the darkness to overtake them so long as they have faith. What Sombra was doing to them in your dimension, trapping them in darkness, was allowing them to appreciate fear, thus making their faith stronger as the powers of light and darkness complement each other. You trust that your friends are just like you, right? Unable to hate Sombra’s soul despite what he's done, correct?”

“…Of course.” Twilight answered sincerely. “My friends don’t have that kind of hate in their hearts that would lead them to submit to the darkness. They would just grow to understand it…”

“As I told Sombra.” the star said sweetly, talking as if he was hinting at something. “However, he didn’t believe me, refusing to believe that anyone could ever empathize with him…do you see now?”

Twilight gasped as a reflection of the star sparkled in her left eye. For a moment, she was able to see the star’s true form…

“I get it now.” she said out loud, a feeling of faith welling inside of her. “I understand now what I need to hope in…”

“I can sense that you have finally learned the greatest magic of all…” Radiant Hope told her, smiling. “It is only the grace of a friend that can save Sombra, revive him again. Having lived as Sombra and faced destruction as him, do you understand now what was done for you?”

“…Yes.” Twilight answered blankly. “If you hadn’t stepped in and used that spell…”

“You’d be ashes.” Hope interjected bluntly. “However, I don’t think that fact should worry you, considering what you know now.”

“Right.” Twilight replied solemnly. “The will of the light would not have allowed such a thing to happen to me while I still had something left to prove with my faith as Sombra, I felt it. I believed Flurry Heart when she told me there was no “may or may not happen” with regards to his destiny. And now that I’ve been saved by the grace of a friend as Sombra…”

Twilight was interrupted by Hope abruptly hugging her, telling her with tears in her eyes…

“Thank you. Thank you for proving that he can be saved. I know how hard this has been for you. But know that it’s because of you and your indomitable spirit that we can save him from eternal torment…”

Hope and Twilight then discussed their plan before returning to Equestria. Before they departed, Twilight shot an angry glare at the green eyes above, having figured out the reason why Sombra was never afraid of her becoming an alicorn…

“I know why you’re here…” she thought indignantly. “I know what you’re planning for Sombra, and I’ll make him realize what you truly are…my faith will triumph over fear…”

Using a teleportation spell, Hope brought herself and Twilight back to the Crystal Empire. Looking down at herself, Twilight immediately noticed that she was in Sombra’s body once more. She and Hope then looked up at the first thing about the Empire that caught their attention. The same green eyes they had seen floating ominously above in the realm of the star’s soul were also in the now orange sky, obscuring both a full moon and a night sky filled with shining stars from view...

“The avatar of the void’s will is present here too…” Hope remarked with concern. “I hope we are not too late…”

Twilight looked around the town and saw Crystal Ponies walking around with their heads lowered toward the ground. Some were occupied by attractions and shops, while others were skulking as if they were afraid of a looming threat. Though Twilight would not have preferred to arrive to find the Empire barren and desolate, both she and Hope could immediately tell something was not right. Hope walked a fair distance away from Twilight and attempted to grab the attention of the pony closest to her, one with a white mane, dark blue and light blue-striped hair, and wearing the outfit of a royal guard by calling out…

“Excuse me! Would you happen to-”

Hope had wanted to ask this pony a question about the eyes in the sky, but she quickly stopped herself once the pony turned to face her, revealing that their eyes had an unnatural green glow, just like the ones in the sky. The first thought that came to both her mind and Twilight’s was that this pony was under the influence of Sombra’s magic, thus the two were surprised when the pony did something unlike one affected by Sombra’s mind control…

“Yes?” the pony replied in a familiar male voice that Twilight recognized, revealing himself to be a stallion she knew. “What do you want to know?”

“Oh, um…” Hope struggled to find an answer, hesitant from shock. “I just…wanted to know if Princess Twilight was still in town.”

“Why would she leave?” the stallion asked in bewilderment. “She is the ruler of the Empire now. Princess Flurry Heart abdicated her position to her, being the only one who could adequately prepare our kingdom for Sombra’s inevitable return.”

“But that doesn’t make sense…” Hope retorted, astonished and growing more nervous. “The combined light of the ponies in this town was able to banish Sombra! Twice!”

“We must trust the judgment of our ruler, Princess Twilight.” the stallion replied, disturbingly unphased. “Sombra is omnipresent, always watching. We must have Twilight’s protection at all times, for once he returns, it will be catastrophic.”

“Nonsense!” Twilight exclaimed indignantly, unable to help herself from intervening. “There was no catastrophe when I returned earlier and there’s no catastrophe now that I’ve returned again!”

Twilight’s cries got the attention of the brainwashed stallion and every other pony in the vicinity, turning to face her to reveal that they also had a green glow in their eyes.

“He’s back!” a mare shrieked in horror. “Every pony, flee!”

All the ponies in town began to retreat to their homes, with the exception of the stallion who merely backed away slightly in fear, a previous experience with Twilight as Sombra calling him not to flee. Panicked nonetheless, his eyes dotted about, catching a striking detail about the body of Sombra Twilight was in…

“Hold on…” he said in surprise, looking at the side of her midsection. “You don’t have wings…you’re not an alicorn…Princess Twilight told us that when you returned again, you would assume the form of an alicorn.”

“Well then, I’m sorry to disappoint you.” Twilight made a rejoinder in a sarcastic tone. “After you Crystal Ponies used your magic on me, I was taken to another dimension where I saw those exact same green eyes that are in the sky now. What’s their alleged purpose here?”

“…I’m not exactly sure.” he answered, now with a tone of skepticism. “I was just told that they’re the eyes of a dark force that was brought here to protect us. That so long as we opened our hearts to it, it would compensate for how the light failed us.”

“How did the light fail you?” Twilight asked, confused. “You all saw me disappear after you used your light and love on me!”

“Yet every pony was left puzzled about what had become of you.” he explained. “Princess Twilight told us that what happened to you was exactly what happened to her once she became an alicorn. The town was flung into a state of panic, and so, I was brought here from Canterlot to help the royal guard maintain the peace.”

“I knew your voice sounded familiar…you’re Snow Sentinel, aren’t you?” Twilight spoke her inference.  

“You remember me?” Snow responded, almost feeling flattered. “Even though I look the same as so many other guards?”

“I’d never forget the voice of some pony who believed in me.” Twilight replied sweetly, grateful to him. “And I’ve also not forgotten how Spike believed in me…trusting that I could get some pony I’m sure you both know back on the right track.”  

“…Now I remember…” a touched Snow said, feeling something inside of him change.

Twilight’s faith in Snow helped him fight the void’s influence over his mind. Before he knew it, his mind became sound once more, and the color of his eyes was restored to normal. With its eyes watching this from the sky, the avatar of the void was disgruntled.

“Sombra…” he whispered to the soul of Sombra inside of Twilight’s body. “Radiant Hope is here with Twilight, who now has the power to neutralize my magic, even as your body is only a unicorn’s still. You know what we must do...”

“Yes…” Sombra replied darkly and sadly. “Though I do not wish to harm my sweet Hope, I have no qualms with giving her a time-out now that she is with the enemy…”

From inside the throne room of the Empire’s castle, he cast a teleportation spell on himself, moving from where a stone statue of Flurry Heart stood, frozen in a wincing pose with a fearful expression on her face.   

In Snow’s now sober state, he immediately felt the calling to tell the two everything.

“Both of you, please listen! You have to help Princess Twilight! Something is deeply wrong with her! She’s been corrupted by an evil force and is spreading its influence all throughout the land! It’s like when the Empire was first taken over, only we’re not being made slaves in the traditional sense. This dark power wants us to live our lives in a way that looks normal, purporting to protect us from the world’s evil in exchange for our freedom of thought, but in reality, it is the world’s evil! Through Twilight, it brainwashed us into thinking living in perpetual fear of Sombra was normal, telling us that he would just keep returning if we depended on our own strength. It had us believe that before we could begin to stop him from returning for good, we’d have to give more power to the ruler of Equestria, allowing those eyes to monitor our every move!”

“So that’s why she brought me here…” Twilight said in realization. “She was pretending to leave my fate up to the Crystal Ponies to make them believe that their will was now irrelevant! The force possessing her is trying to take over Equestria, not by conquering lands with the power of darkness through blunt force, but through manipulating the message of light to weaken ponies!”

“That’s why we’re here though!” Hope declared enthusiastically with confidence. “Our faith can undo the spell this force has put upon the land. You only need one spark to get a fire going, so all we have to do is keep doing what we did here to every pony else we can find, and before we know it, Equestria will be saved!”

“Ho ho, sweet, gullible Hope…” a familiar foe interjected derisively. “Quite the ambition for three hapless little ponies who know too much…”

Instinctively, Snow shoved Hope and Twilight away to protect them, just before Sombra teleported behind him, casting a spell that turned him to stone. Hope immediately cast a magic spell to shield herself and Twilight from dark magic as the duo looked ahead of them from the newly formed pink magic bubble in terror at Sombra. He was glaring at them menacingly with an arrogant smirk as he stood beside the petrified Snow.

“Interesting stalemate we’re in here…” Sombra commented in a haughty tone, his unphased reaction to their magic-repelling barrier compounding the duo’s fright further. “However, I can easily end it. After all, I have a hostage…”

“No…” an aghast Hope said as he turned to Snow. “You wouldn’t!”

“Bring down that shield,” demanded Sombra wickedly, “or else I break him apart.”

Hope’s mind immediately recalled the story she was told by the star of how his dimension’s Sombra turned Discord to stone and broke him apart. Knowing the likelihood of this Sombra that she knew and grew up with being serious about this threat, her fear became replaced by righteous indignance. This anger, however, she knew she would have to suppress it for a moment for her plan…

Twilight, on the other hand, was filled with uncertainty in addition to trepidation. She knew of the plan she and Hope discussed. Both of them had actually anticipated this situation, Sombra taking a hostage. Hope had told her what she would have to do as a last resort in said scenario, distract Sombra with her own negotiation. So long as she chose the right words, Sombra would hesitate to stone her, the only friend he ever had from childhood. Twilight would have to take advantage of that one moment of his guard being relaxed to cast a spell that would stone both Hope and Sombra, the blast radius from the magic inevitably engulfing Hope. Hope had assured Twilight that so long as she distracted Sombra with adulatory dialogue, he would indeed drop his guard, and that she could always un-stone them later, after taking time to come up with a plan with the star to save them both. However…

…Twilight didn’t want to take that chance. Looking at the green eyes watching from above, she became filled with her own righteous indignation.

“I fully trust you, Hope…” she thought sincerely, brimming with resolve. “But I’m not going to let you do this. Not only can I not let a friend who believed in me risk herself, but I refuse to run from my destiny…saving your friend from the void through overcoming my fear!”

“Alright Sombra, you win.” Hope told him tenderly to set him up. “I’ll dispel the barrier so long as you swear to-”

“Let me make you an alicorn!” Twilight abruptly cried, stunning both Hope and Sombra.

“…What?!” they exclaimed, shocked.

“You heard me right.” Twilight responded with a confident smirk, looking at Sombra. “More specifically, I want to teleport you and I to the realm of the star’s soul…where the will of the void will make you an alicorn. And in exchange, you are not to harm Snow, Hope, or any inhabitant of this world ever again.”

Both Hope and Sombra were flabbergasted.

“Twilight…what are you doing?!” Hope cried in shock. “Do you mean to sacrifice yourself?”

“Hope,” replied Twilight solemnly, “you know that your plan is simply delaying the inevitable. Clinging to a hope you know won’t be realized while trying to fight destiny. We do have our choices, and Sombra has chosen to collapse in on himself…but that’s where we come in. Our faith will make him choose the destiny the light wants for him, to be reborn.”

Hope then recalled what the star had told her about why the will of the light punishes Sombra and the incredible destiny he could choose to have. After some thinking, she shut her eyes and said with a nod…

“I understand. Just don’t forget that I’ll be there in spirit.”

After witnessing this conversation, Sombra’s surprise turned to glee, the way these two were talking and behaving making it clear they had not staged this for a trick.

“I could sense their fear…” Sombra thought triumphantly. “This is not an act. They must have gone past fear and subconsciously accepted defeat while denying it on the surface out of arrogance. None of it matters though so long as I win…”

“It’s a deal, Twilight.” he told her, grinning with malice. “Not that any ruse of yours could destroy me anyway, but a win’s a win. Teleport us to this realm so that I may complete the destiny of yours that is now mine…AND PUNISH YOU.”

Sombra’s eyes glowed green upon saying that, excited for vengeance. Twilight’s expression remained unchanged however, knowing especially after she had seen her power of faith’s work on Snow that the void’s influence would not last…

With a cast of magic, she teleported herself and Sombra to the star’s realm…

“THERE YOU ARE, SOMBRA.” the dark force from before boomed once Twilight and Sombra, returned to their original forms, arrived inside of the star’s realm. “Now, your destiny can be fulfilled…”

Those same green eyes from above levitated down towards Sombra and became a swirling concentration of darkness around him, engulfing him and transforming him into an alicorn with wings made of shadow. Looking upon his new form, Sombra cackled in delight.

“At last, the full power of the void is mine!” he exclaimed ebulliently. “I can tap the power of darkness from anywhere now…including our dimension! I’m sure you know what I have planned for you, Twilight…mwa ha ha…”

Despite his boasts and sadistic cheer, however, Twilight was still not moved.

“Indeed I do.” she responded blankly. “You’re going to harness the energy of my friends, still imprisoned in your darkness, to create a blast that will disintegrate me and banish me to the moon, just as my friends and I did to you…”

“Spot on.” Sombra said happily, using his newfound alicorn magic to teleport himself and Twilight to the sky where the moon was. “Now let’s see if I can correctly guess what’s on your mind…the reason you’re taking this all so well is because you’re confident that even after I judge you accordingly, your friends will free you from your lunar prison as they freed me.”

“Wrong.” Twilight retorted bluntly. “The reason for my tranquility right now is my faith. I know in my heart that I won’t be saved by five, but six stars after you receive your judgement.”

Sombra growled, Twilight’s lack of fear aggravating the will of the void.

“You sad, delusional, pathetic loser.” Sombra mocked her angrily. “You think I can’t stop the star from bailing you out in case he decides to save you out of pity? Not only are we now outside the realm of his soul, I never intended to leave any contingency unchecked…”  

Sombra cast a spell that made the souls of Twilight’s friends in the forms of stars appear beside him, absorbing their power into himself. His charged horn was ready to cast the spell that would banish Twilight. However, Twilight stood her ground and gave him a firm glare, feeling the power of faith flow through her just like the magic of friendship in the face of her greatest fear.

“That’s right…” he told her sinisterly, his eyes glowing green again. “Once I’ve absorbed their power, I intend to take the star’s magic for my own…and make myself A GOD! The darkness shall triumph over the light, and I shall rule over the entire universe! MWA HA HA HA HA!”

“NO!” Twilight cried in defiance, her eyes glowing white. “Light will triumph! You will see that you have been deceived by the void! Even now, I believe in you! Your soul will be redeemed!”

Sombra was stunned, his mind recalling what Twilight had said from the beginning about refusing to hate his spirit. Twilight’s faith was stifling the void’s influence on his mind, and in rage, he cried out…


Twilight smiled serenely, making her last remarks before the banishing spell was cast…

“Because of you. I appreciate the fear now. Having been put in the place of darkness, I can now reach my friends more easily than ever…and I’ve made you one of them. Because the best way to defeat your enemy is to make them your friend.”

Sombra gasped once he finally blasted Twilight with a beam of light that disintegrated her, banishing her to the moon. He felt the void’s hold on his mind vanish, finally realizing…

“Friendship is magic…”

He then looked at the moon where the beam of light that had enveloped Twilight had hit, causing Twilight’s visage to appear on it. He could then feel a familiar feeling welling inside of him as the energy he had absorbed from Twilight’s friends grew stronger.

“Nothing has changed, even as I have won…” he told himself, disillusioned. “The will of the void told me that once I took my revenge like this, I’d be satisfied…yet I feel the farthest thing from elated.”

Sombra then looked at his alicorn form, feeling a peculiar sensation in his right front leg, realizing an unpleasant truth as he mused over the void’s lies.

“This is not an actual immortal body.” he said somberly. “The will of the void’s true form is actually just an amalgamation of souls lost to the darkness, having never known eternal life. It only gave me more magic. I’m still only a shadow. And now, without its will to maintain it, the core of my dark being can no longer contain the light growing inside me…I’ll implode.”

Sombra’s right front leg was sucked inside of him. Impulsively, he futilely attempted to cast a spell before his horn collapsed inside his head. Turning around, he saw the same thing happen to his back legs, wings, and then finally, his left front leg. All that remained of him was his head, neck, and torso, floating with the last bit of magic that he had.

“I guess this is it…” he said in woeful acceptance. “I’m surprised by how well I’m taking this though, knowing that Twilight’s friends will escape, join forces with the star to liberate her, and have their happy ending once more. Maybe because at least this time, I go out like a star rather than a shadow…or maybe because I have no more reason to doubt that Twilight truly did empathize with me, meaning that the star was right all along…”

“Of course I was right…” the star echoed, abruptly appearing from behind like he had when he first met Sombra. “Of course I knew…for I lived and died just like you…and was born again…”

Sombra turned to face the star just before his neck and head were sucked into his compressing torso, leaving him as only a sphere with eyes, ready to burst inward. The last thing he saw before he finally imploded…was the true nature of the star’s soul…

And so, the last words on his mind before said event were…

“I want to be reborn like you too…”

Sombra’s body finally burst, collapsing with a resounding pop, leaving behind glimmering particles of light and stardust in his wake.

“Ask and you shall receive.” the star said happily, knowing what he had thought, having seen the true nature of Sombra’s soul.

Sombra’s energies were coalescing into a star…

As Sombra predicted, Twilight’s friends were easily able to escape from the darkness without his hold, and were now attempting to free Twilight from the moon. However, no matter what they did, the seal binding her would not come undone.

“There’s no use.” Twilight told them softly. “This seal was done by light manipulated by the will of the void. We need one more star, one familiar with this kind of magic. One who was once darkness…”

“…Do you mean Sombra?” her friends asked in confusion. “You think he’s a star now?”

Now?” Twilight responded with a chuckle, sensing a star appearing behind her. “Why don’t you tell them the story, my new friend?”

She spoke this to the star from behind, who moved in front of her to face her friends, revealing himself to be Sombra.  

“When I held you captive,” he explained solemnly, “a star approached me. He took Twilight and I to another dimension, claiming he was from an alternate dimension that an alternate version of me conquered. The thing is, he’s not one of the victims of that alternate self of mine…he is that alternate self of mine.”

Twilight’s friends were completely shocked, especially when the star Sombra referred to appeared behind them to confirm the truth.

“Yes…I am also Sombra.” he affirmed. “When Discord brought me back in your dimension, where you defeated me, an alternate dimension was created, where I destroyed Discord before defeating you and turning you to stone, as part of the balance of light and darkness. I became the matchless ruler of that dimension, likening myself to a god…and found myself feeling hollow, devoid of happiness. The will of the void lavished me with power, promised me immortality, even made me an alicorn…and despite having everything I ever wanted, I was replete with misery, misery resulting from loneliness…I longed for companionship.”

“That’s how I figured out what I needed to do once I learned that…” Twilight chimed in. “Your spirit was that of an alicorn’s, knowing the spark I felt when I first discovered the Elements of Harmony with my friends.”

“Once I had that revelation…” he continued. “I realized that the void had lied to me. The light of friendship began to overtake me, gradually eroding my body of darkness. And so, before I died, I released Twilight and her friends from petrification, using my last moments of mortal life to free Equestria from the will of the void’s influence. I fully expected my soul to awaken to a realm of eternal darkness, eternal torment…but instead…I awakened as a star in the sky. And eventually, Twilight and her friends became stars in the sky as well…meeting me and forgiving me. They even accepted the darkness inside of me…Sombra didn’t know it, but that avatar of the void he absorbed was the avatar of my darkness. He had already absorbed my magic…I wanted him to have everything, to have that along with the power of Twilight’s friends so that he’d truly appreciate the futility of his endeavor.”

“So you truly weren’t on a side…” Sombra stated, astonished. “You were trying to help all of us…and you were telling me the truth when you said they’d grow to understand me…”

“Correct.” the star assured joyfully. “Even the Discord of my dimension’s soul forgave me for what I did in time, telling me of your dimension. To pay my penance, I came here after your Discord passed on, the death of my dimension’s creator weakening our interdimensional border. That’s why I created this alternate world, to allow both you and Twilight a chance to fulfill your destinies by discovering the greatest magic of all. Tell me Sombra, do you know what that is now? Now that you still felt empty getting everything after coming from nothing?”

Sombra didn’t need to ponder, his words just came out…

“Friends having faith in me. The one time in my life I was happy was when Hope, my friend, believed in me. Had I just believed in her too, it wouldn’t have mattered if my destiny was with light or darkness…because the greatest magic of all, the power of light and hope…is the power to create something from the void…like stars from shadow…”

With those words, Sombra began to glow with incredible brilliance, his incandescence surprising and impressing Twilight’s friends. Both Twilight and the star were delighted, knowing what he would do now.

“I know now why I was born of the darkness.” Sombra said serenely in self-realization. “The destiny the light wanted for me was for me to appreciate my free will after being so close to the souls lost to darkness. The power of light wasn’t meant to be abused to control and manipulate restive ponies, making them forget the importance of their free will…”

He then turned to Twilight before continuing with a declaration of tearful joy at the moon…

“This power was meant to set ponies like you and me free from a prison, an eternal torture called SOLITUDE! It’s our SALVATION!”

Twilight and the star were also tearfully joyful as Sombra and Twilight’s five other friends gathered around the moon, their magic now able to free her from her lunar imprisonment with a blinding flash of light. A wave of light spread all throughout the star’s world, freeing Flurry and Snow from stone and all the ponies from the will of the void’s influence. Watching from below, Hope too smiled and cried. Having seen everything, she knew she was right to trust Twilight, happily remarking...

“I knew you’d pass on my spirit of hope to him…”

The star teleported her back to her world in the flash of light, as Twilight and all of her other friends, including Sombra, were returned to their dimension…

“Ho ho ho, I knew you would pass the test with flying colors…”

…these words that sounded like they were spoken by a familiar draconequus echoing in Twilight’s mind along the way…

When Twilight came to in her world, she found herself inside her bedroom again. Looking outside the window, she saw six stars in her cutie mark’s pattern silently shedding their light in the night sky behind the moon…and she smiled, able to see the souls of those stars smiling back at her. They were her friends who had freed her from the moon, and she realized that the stars she had seen from outside the window before she doubted her destiny had appeared as a sign to signify this event. It’s almost as if the star and those alternate versions of her friends had always known things would turn out this way…and now that her friends in this dimension knew her story, they were inspired to create something in the sky that would inspire future generations, something that Twilight didn’t want to watch from her room alone…

Making her way to the hallway, she found Luster Dawn, Spike, and a familiar-looking guard watching a familiar spectacle in the sky from the window. It was Twilight’s friends creating another light show, only this time, now that Sombra was a star, he didn’t just use his darkness to make the lights brighter, even as his darkness had made him the largest and most radiant star of the six. He created two balls of light that looked like the avatar of the will of the void’s eyes, then had them burst in on themselves to create more lights. The citizens of Equestria watching from all across the land were even more impressed with this show than the other, and again, Flurry was watching too from the Crystal Empire, recognizing Sombra in the sky.

“This is why there could’ve been no better punishment…” she said lovingly.

Twilight also had a loving remark to share with Luster…

“Do you know why that star is so bright?” she asked her student while pointing to Sombra.

“Why?” Luster replied innocently.

“Because that star was born from a shadow.” Twilight answered joyfully. “I chose you as my successor, a pony who didn’t understand friendship, because I had faith in you shining just like that…”

Luster hugged her mentor tightly, knowing that even as Twilight would one day ascend, the memory of this night would last forever…forever inspiring future generations that would live, die, and be reborn…

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