The Crystal King's Shadow

by TGM

Chapter 2: Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

The Crystal King’s Shadow Chapter I

Far from Twilight’s position, deep within the blackened crystal that now adorned the exterior walls of the Crystal Empire’s castle, a powerful darkness had taken hold. Darkness that belonged to none other than the Crystal King himself, King Sombra. He was a shadow no longer, but now a unicorn at his full magical capability. King Sombra was satisfied, the defenses he had put in place to keep anypony from finding the Crystal Heart had worked exactly as he hoped they would.  Sombra stood out on the balcony jutting from his throne room, watching as the crystal ponies far below let out the occasional wail of pain or misery as they slaved away carrying out the tasks that King Sombra had burdened them with. Tasks which consisted of erecting crystal statues in the King’s likeness, or toiling away in the crystal mines, digging up more of the material used to build the ever-expanding empire. Among the slaves were Sombra’s  crystal guard, large ponies with spiked crystal armor who normally carried whips, suspended in the air with the magic emanating from their glowing horns.

The sounds of pain and agony echoing up from the streets below was like music to the King’s ears, and only served to fuel his hatred. His kingdom was back under his control, but that still left the unresolved matter with the princesses at hoof. They would most likely try to dethrone him again, he needed to prepare for such an event, were it to happen. 'Although he would admit, he questioned why they hadn't intervened yet where the lavender unicorn had fallen. As far as he could tell, that one seemed to be acting in their stead. It was all in vain though, the unicorn had fallen straight into his trap, playing right into his hooves. Speaking of the unicorn…

The king shifted his fiery gaze out towards canterlot, feeling a connection break. “So she has awoken…” Sombra’s voice was deep and echoing, as if it were being spoken by more than one pony. “It will indeed be…interesting…to watch and see how this plays out…but it is much too late…the Crystal Empire belongs to me once more, and it’s all thanks to her.” He grinned, his eyes glowing a fiery green. “Twilight Sparkle…you have my thanks.” He laughed, the shadow of the castle stretching across the field directly in front of the empire, the plants in the field slowly wilting and dying at the feel of a sudden dark influence.

After the tears had stopped flowing, Twilight packed up everything she thought she would need to take with her from the place that was once her home. She figured she might as well head back to Ponyville, her job as a librarian there would at least be able to hold her over and supply for the basic needs of a pony…and at least she would have a small sense of comfort in the knowledge that would surround her. She thought about going to the Royal Guard barracks to tell her brother goodbye, but the thought of looking him in the eyes terrified her, and she wasn’t even sure if the Princess would allow her back there at all.

Saddlebags in tow, she set off for the train station. As she trotted along, she made a mental list of things to do once she had reached Ponyville. Even in grief, Twilight Sparkle still needed things to be organized, or else would her mind would start straying into the incredibly impossible scenarios that her imagination could conjure. Her mother had always said that she worried too much over nothing. At the thought of her mother, Twilight’s hooves stopped on the cobblestone streets. “Mom…” Twilight looked back to Canterlot. This may very well be the last time she saw what used to be her home. Maybe…maybe if she just stopped by to see her mom…

“ALL ABOARD!” Came the voice of the train’s conducter. Twilight flinched at the call for everypony to board the train. There wasn’t time for that now though... she needed to figure out what she was going to do next, and the only way to do that was to go back to Ponyville and figure out what in Equestria had happened after she had gone through that door. Her friends would be there for her…they had to be. Without a second thought, she quickly galloped onto the train - which took off shortly afterwards.

The trip to Ponyville wasn’t too long of a ride, but the sights along the way weren’t an easy thing to witness. There was some sort of shadow leaking out from around the Crystal Empire, and Twilight wasn’t sure what it was or if it was even a shadow at all. “A shadow is the absence of light,” Twilight attempted to rationalize the situation, trying to make sense of it. “meaning that the shadow should be confined to around the base of the Crystal Empire…So then why has it reached all the way out here?” As Twilight looked out the window, it seemed as if the plant life she was seeing during the trip was wilting, dying even. Plants required sunlight, so it was logical to theorize that this literal ‘shadow’ covering the land was depriving them of that, but Twilight couldn’t help but feel as if there was…more. She pushed it to the back of her mind for the moment at hand. The thought of seeing her friends again was doing more than enough to cheer her up already and she couldn’t wait to make it to Ponyville.

When the train came to a stop, Twilight practically lept out of her seat. At some point during the ride she must have fallen asleep, she found herself unable to remember anything between making the observation on the plants, and actually arriving at the station. She quickly stood up, trotting up to the exit door on the train. As she stepped onto the platform she noticed how eerily quiet everything was. It felt…unnatural. There was almost always somepony walking the streets of Ponyville. Twilight trotted down the train station’s wooden stairs, taking her first few steps into the town. The doors to every house and shop were shut tight, the shops’signs turned over to display ‘Closed’ on the doors. Had something happened to Ponyville in the time she had been away too?

She made a mental note to ask her friends about it when she got to them. Her first stop would be Rarity’s boutique, as it was the closest. Trotting through the abandoned streets of the familiar village, Twilight felt an unsettling sense of loneliness. One thing she had enjoyed about Ponyville was how friendly everypony was - but now all the doors and windows were locked tight – as if ponies couldn’t stand the thought of talking to one another. It was a depressing sight, and didn’t do much to improve Twilight’s already downed mood. She would be lying to herself if she said going to see her friends wasn’t as much for comforts as it was for answers.

As Twilight neared Rarity’s boutique, she heard what sounded like somepony yelling. “THAT MANY BITS FOR SUCH AN ELEGANT DRESS?! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!” The front door burst open, and a pony was flung out, sliding on the grass before coming to a stop. The door slammed shut, and Twilight stood, stunned at what she had just witnessed. She was nearly certain that the voice she had just heard belonged to her friend Rarity- but…Rarity would never do that to somepony would she…? Twilight approached the door, hesitating a bit before knocking on it with a hoof.  


“J-just a minute!” There was a crash and a sound of shuffling before the door finally opened. There in the doorway stood Rarity. Or, what Twilight thought was Rarity anyways. Her normally pearly coat was riddled with mud and dirt, her normally curly and flawless mane was messy and unkempt, and her eyes were red, with bags under them. Eyes which, right now, were boring directly into Twilight’s.

“Can I help you with something?” Rarity’s  tone was significantly less enthusiastic than it had been mere moments ago.

“Uh…Rarity! It’s me, Twilight!” Twilight gave the best smile she could put on.

“…Uh huh.” Came Rarity’s response as she walked back into the boutique, leaving the door open behind her. Twilight took this as an invitation to come inside, trotting in as she closed the door behind her. The inside of Rarity’s home was an absolute mess! Well, it usually was anyways, a side-effect of her always working and her ideas strewn about on the floor, but this somehow looked worse. Shelves were thrown over, pony mannequins were laying all over the floor, clothes and fabrics strewn about with hoof prints all over them. Rarity stood on the far end of the room, the sound of a threading machine working on some order Rarity probably had to fill for a client.

“So…” Twilight began, glancing uneasily around the room. “Mind telling me… what happened here?” Rarity turned and glared at her. Twilight actually took a step back.

“What happened? WHAT HAPPENED?!” Rarity stomped towards her, Twilight backed up more than a few hoof steps. “After we LOST the Crystal Empire, the crystal ponies went back to being SLAVES! The looks on their faces…they…they…” Rarity broke off with a sob. Twilight stretched out a hoof, but Rarity slapped it away. “After we FAILED at that, I came back here to find my boutique DESTROYED! Somepony actually broke in, and ransacked my store! And stole some of my BEST DESIGNS! I had to start from SCRATCH! I’ve been up for the last week trying to repair all the damage that’s been done, but after what happened at the empire, I just…I can’t…” Rarity broke off again, covering her mouth as her eyes brimmed with tears.

“Rarity…” Twilight was in absolute shock. Rarity heard her voice and went back to glaring at her.

“And you…” Her voice seethed with venom. “You come in here…acting like everything is alright…AFTER EVERYTHING YOU DID!”

“WHAT?! I-I don’t know what you’re talking about- R-Rarity this isn’t like you…”

“Take a look around you Twilight! Have you seen Spike around recently? No? That’s because he RAN AWAY! I’ll never see my sweet little Spikey-Wikey again…” She held back the tears this time, taking a few more furious steps towards Twilight, who actually backed up out of the store. “In case you didn’t notice Twilight, NOTHING is like how it was before! I was willing to see if something changed in you, but you came into my store, acting like NOTHING HAPPENED!” Twilight’s ears folded down behind her head.


“DON’T EVEN SAY IT!” Rarity yelled. “In fact, why don’t you just go away, and LEAVE ME TO MY WORK!” Rarity yelled as she slammed the door in Twilight’s face. Inside, Twilight overheard Rarity’s pained sobs over the sound of the sewing machine.

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