Defiance by MrDestiny80
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"War does not determine who is right - only who is left."

Bertrand Russell

"Drive them back! Do not give in! We cannot let Canterlot fa…" the last words uttered by Nightsilver, before an arrow pierced through his helmet, staining the ground below with crimson spots and the hearts of his comrades with terror. A month ago, the handsome young pegasus shed tears of joy as he put on the golden armor of a Canterlot guard and gazed at himself in the mirror, astounded by how well it complimented his silver fur and amazed at the stallion he had matured into. Becoming a royal guard had been his life's dream, and his soul burned with the desire to protect his homeland, especially since the dreaded war had begun. Now, all of his hopes and dreams had been shattered by the cruel reality of combat, his lifeless body constituting a grim testament to the viciousness of the empire's soldiers.

All around the battlefield in front of Canterlot, Equestrian soldiers were scrambling left and right, desperate to protect their city from the dark tide of enemies. What started out as a normal day had quickly shifted into a chaotic nightmare as, out of nowhere, hundreds of crystal ponies emerged outside the walls of the capitol and began laying siege to the city. The majority of Equestria's army had been dispatched to strategic regions deep within the Crystal Empire, leaving only a small fraction of the royal guard to defend Canterlot.

A thundering symphony of clashing swords, shattering shields, breaking bones and sinister screams filled the mountainous landscape, as the Equestrians fought, determined not to let anything happen to the jewel of their kingdom. Barely able to stop their legs from shaking, young and inexperienced stallions and mares were clumsily throwing spears and launching arrows towards the horizon, while their more battle-tested brethren charged forward, taking on the full might of the advancing enemy army.

The Crystal Empire's elite troops stood before Canterlot's walls. An insidious gathering of the most brutal and bloodthirsty skirmishers the world has ever seen was carving its way through the Equestrian forces, advancing towards the seat of the power of the princesses of the Moon and the Sun.

On the left flank, crystal ponies fully clad in black armor, adorned with sharp spikes and wielding immense spears were marching in formation, creating an unstoppable tide of death. With great precision and speed, they pierced the heart of any enemy brave enough to approach them. They were led by a unicorn who levitated four sharp longswords, wielding them with supernatural talent, as if they were an extension of his own body, delivering a whirlwind of thousands of cuts.

On the right, terrified royal guards were fleeing, gazing back in horror as their comrades' heads were being bashed into the ground by a freakishly huge earth pony wielding a massive bronze war-hammer. The very earth itself shook when his weapon hit the ground. The vicious stallion let out a demented laugh after every pony he would kill, relishing in the sound of his opponents' bones crumbling into dust. At his side stood even more grotesque monsters: repulsive abominations with holes in place of their eyes, ragged fangs and hideous crystal scales over their bodies, resembling animated pony corpses. These creatures rushed forward with demonic speed, viciously tearing through any pony unfortunate enough to cross their way.

As the Equestrian troops scrambled into phalanx formation, pointing their weapons forward, hoping to stop the enemy's advance, a rain of daggers descended upon them. From the dark clouds overhead, sharp blades fell with impeccable precision, targeting the weak spots of their armor and shattering their defensive line. Upon looking towards the sky, a royal guard saw the source of the barrage: a squad of pegasi cloaked in ebony, blending in the dark clouds. Their commander plunged from the heavens like a bolt of black lightning, her slender figure barely visible in the sky. She launched a blade which pierced directly through the skull of a young mare in the Equestrian army, coming out the other side and landing in the throat of the stallion behind her, ending both their lives.

With fear and despair taking root in their minds, the defending soldiers fled back towards the main gate, planning to make a final stand there.

In the ensuing chaos, a retreating recruit was pounced on by one of the eyeless monstrosities, plummeting to the ground and dropping his sword. Blunderingly picking his weapon up with shaking hooves, he looked towards his otherworldly oppressor with utmost dread, as tears of desperation began running down his face. Knowing he stood no chance against his foe, the stallion closed his eyes and said a silent prayer to Princess Celestia, wishing for a swift death. Moments later, he heard the creature's ghastly howl as it leaped towards him, lunging at his throat with its deformed teeth.

The sound of shattering crystals then echoed across the battlefield, as the rhythmic march of the dark army of the Crystal Empire stopped. Surprised that he was still able to breathe, the frightened stallion found the courage to open his eyes, only to witness the creature's rotting corpse in front of him. Its body had been sliced cleanly in two and the dark crystals which covered it had dispersed into thousands of minuscule shards. He then heard a voice which filled his young heart with hope and lifted the spirits of the entire Equestrian army, "Remember your duty soldiers. Stand your ground! We shall not let the shadow win this day. Put your faith in the light!"

Out of Canterlot's gate, its most prolific defender had appeared: general Golden Aegis. The general had defended Canterlot for more than fifty years and was an unmatched military commander and warrior, having had his skills tested in more than one hundred battles. Although many have said the pegasus should have retried years ago, Golden Aegis refused to permanently sheath his sword. Despite his age, his tall and elegant body was adorned with muscles and complimented by a shining golden armor and a massive shield strapped to his left foreleg. Throughout the years, his once light blue fur had become darker, and his mane and beard had become grey. In his right fore-hoof he wielded a board-sword made of pure gold, with a blade as wide as pony. With one swing of this magnificent weapon he was able to shatter the repulsive abomination to bits. He appeared as a shiny beacon of hope for the Equestrians, bringing with him a squad of elite soldiers, all ready to die before allowing the enemy to set one hoof in their beloved city.

Inspired by the presence of such a hero, a fresh sense of hope and honor blossomed in the hearts of the royal guards, who grasped their weapons tightly and pressed their hooves firmly into the ground.

Lifting his sword high up into the air, Golden Aegis addressed the enemy, "Have you come here seeking to find a defenseless city? The only thing you shall find … is your end! Before you stand the armies of Canterlot, and we fight with the blessings of the princesses themselves! We are all prepared to perish a hundred times before we let anything happen to them. We shall purge your filth from our lands and send you crawling back to the shadows from which you came. This city has stood for thousands of years …"

Before he could finish his speech, the half severed body of a royal guard flew through the air and landed a few feet in front of Golden Aegis, and a deep dark voice boomed across the battlefield, "And it shall fall while under your protection!"

The Equestrian army looked towards the horizon and saw the enemy soldiers sculling left and right, making room for somepony to pass. The soldiers' legs shook as the air seemed to grow thick with the very stench of death itself and the skies darkened. Suddenly, Sombra, the king of the Crystal Empire, emerged in front of his troops, his demonic green eyes fixated upon the royal guards. An arrogant smile adorned his face, his pitch black mane and elegant red cape fluttering in the wind, while he took slow steps towards the general.

Upon seeing the monarch out in the open, Golden Aegis clutched his sword with both fury and passion, as he had secretly been hoping for a shot at Sombra. Lifting his head high, the general addressed his opponent, "Sombra, you are a blight which we shall purge from this world! The blood of hundreds of Equestrians stains your hooves. You hid in your castle while others fought for you and even now you cringe behind your soldiers. Come forth coward, fight me and face your justice!"

Sombra's only reaction was a condensing huff, as he reached for the ground and tore off a piece of his own shadow, shaping it into a black scythe. Twirling it around, he addressed the royal Canterlot army, "Many have indeed died in this war … and many more will. Your city's fate is inevitable! Should you stand against me, your end will be gruesome and agonizing. However, if you lower your weapons and surrender, I might be considerate enough to grant you a most generous gift ... a quick death!"

Numerous Equestrian soldiers shook their heads in doubt, cringed by the cruelty displayed by the barbarous Sombra, while others spat in disgust, unwilling to give in to the king's threats.

Golden Aegis paid no heed to Sombra's taunts. He just stood his ground and signaled his troops to do the same. Experience had taught him that a short temper was one of the most exploitable flaws a soldier could have.

Unfortunately for him, some of the stallions under his command did not share this knowledge and, in the heat of the moment, decided to make their mark upon history. With ravenous bravado, they charged forward, yelling atop of their lungs, "Your reign of terror ends today!" Ignoring their commander's orders, they attacked Sombra head on, hoping to bring the conflict to an end with just a swing of their maces.

Pleased to see his enemies display such an amateurish behavior, Sombra easily dodged one of the attacks and used his scythe to block the others. Demonstrating impressive combat skills, the king then swung his weapon, aiming directly for the weakest portion of the soldiers' armors: their joints. In a split second, the stallions fell to the ground, crippled by pain, not able to move their legs. With two more slashes of his dark scythe, the king took their heads and left them broken and dead.

The Equestrian army watched with horror as their comrades fell before Sombra's wrath. Unwilling to share the same fate, they obeyed the general and held their position, refusing to break formation.

After menacingly licking the blood clean off his blade, Sombra gazed at Golden Aegis in the same way a hawk stares at its unwitting pray, and abruptly lunged himself at demonic speed towards the pegasus. The king's troops remained behind, apparently entertained by their master's dauntlessness.

In preparation for the attack, the general ordered four of his most bulky lieutenants to form a shield-wall, while the other ponies were given the signal to take several steps back.

Sombra's speed and strength were supernatural. In what seemed like mere moments he had reached his target and struck the shields with such force that he put a dent in the metal. Noticing that the lieutenants were still standing, the king lit up his red horn and summoned sharp crystal spikes from the ground which pierced through the shields, shattering them to pieces.

Hoping to go on the offensive, the four ponies lashed onto Sombra, but he created a red force field around himself and pushed his attackers right off, sending them flying several yards away.

Taking advantage of the current situation, Golden Aegis silently signaled some of his elite soldiers to go around the back, thus creating a circle around the king. In order to distract Sombra, the pegasus commanded his archers to fire a volley of arrows towards him.

Unimpressed, Sombra conjured a wall of black flames in front of him, which singed the projectiles.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Golden Aegis donned a smile, realizing his plan had worked. The brash Sombra had charged in hastily on his own, and now the army of Canterlot was all around him. The king had nowhere to run.

Pointing his sword towards Sombra, the general threatened, "Your arrogance has proven to be your undoing Sombra. Look around you! The armies of Canterlot are everywhere. You have fallen into my trap. There is no escape. Surrender, you are surrounded!"

Analyzing the battlefield, Sombra witnessed that Golden Aegis was telling the truth; he was indeed circled by the Equestrian army. Still, not one soldier would take a step towards him. Gazing into their eyes, he saw the terror which lingered in their hearts, betrayed by their shaking hooves and the drops of nervous sweat dripping from their foreheads.

Pointing his scythe towards Golden Aegis, Sombra replied, "All I am surrounded by is fear … and dead ponies!" With draconic determination, the king charged towards the old pegasus, preparing to end his life.

Seeing his foe approaching, Golden Aegis readied his shield and prepared to block the attack, but, much to his surprise, instead of attacking him, Sombra quickly shifted direction and charged towards the left striking down an unsuspecting soldier with a single blow. As the other nearby ponies swung their swords and spears towards Sombra, he utilized his dark magic to sprout several tenebrous tentacles from his shadow which wrapped around himself, forming a crystal cocoon which protected him from the incoming attacks.

Unwilling to miss out on any of the carnage, the army of the Crystal Empire marched forward, rushing towards the location of their king.

Hearing his troops closing in, Sombra shattered his crystal cocoon, sending out a wave of razor-sharp shards which pierced through the nearby Equestrian soldiers. He then spun around with his scythe, carving through the armor of three nearby royal guards.

Golden Aegis ordered the ponies stationed on the walls to fire the ballistae at the enemy army, but before his troops could act, they were attacked by the Crystal's Empire pegasi which overran the battlements and engaged them in close-range combat. The ponies on the ground were doing their best trying to hold back the bulk of Sombra's soldiers, but despite their fervor and tenacity, it was a fight they could not win.

As the battle raged on, a vicious crystal pony jumped towards Golden Aegis, thrusting his dirk towards the old stallion's throat. After easily blocking the attack, the general ended his opponent's life with a single swing of his massive broad-sword, severing the crystal pony's torso in two.

Seeing that his comrades were outnumbered and outmatched, Golden Aegis knew that there was only one way out of this. Fixating his gaze upon King Sombra, the pegasus prepared to engage in combat with the tyrant, because killing him was the only way in which he could end the conflict with an Equestrian victory.

Flapping his wings, Golden Aegis dashed into the air with tremendous speed and flew towards Sombra, swinging his weapon down upon the king's head. Without even flinching, Sombra lifted his black scythe and intercepted the general's blade with his own, stopping it mere inches from his forehead.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Golden Aegis took a few steps back and gasped in awe, "That is impossible … I have crumbled entire walls with a swing of my sword. How can your weapon withstand such an impact?"

Smiling sadistically, Sombra playfully pointed at his scythe and responded, "Shadow-steel is far more stubborn than stone. Allow me to demonstrate!"

With that, Sombra lunged himself towards the old pegasus and aimed for his head. Noticing the attack, Golden Aegis parried it with his sword.

A mischievous grin appeared on Sombra's face, witnessing his enemy doing exactly as he had anticipated. Knowing that both Golden Aegis's massive sword and shield had to weigh a lot and realizing that, even with all of his strength, the general would not be able to react fast enough, the king quickly lifted his left foreleg and summoned a shadow-steel claw out of thin air, aiming it towards the old pegasus's heart.

Golden Aegis watched in horror as the weapon pierced his golden armor as if it was nothing, and made its way into his ventricle. Staring at Sombra with utmost hatred, the general wanted to lower his foreleg and slice the king in two, but found himself unable to feel any of his limbs. He suddenly sensed that he could not breathe anymore, and his gaze grew darker and darker.

Taking vicious delight in his opponent's agony, Sombra began slowly twisting the claw in the wound, snickering at the general's inability to react. Approaching his snout to Golden Aegis's ear, Sombra taunted the old pegasus one last time, "You thought your gold would protect you, but for your foolishness you have paid the iron price!"

After guarding the kingdom for more than half a century, the old stallion's watch had ended. Facing his enemy, Golden Aegis tried to curse the foul monarch one last time, but was unable to spew anything other than grunts of pain. As blood dripped down his shining armor, the pegasus fell to his knees and closed his eyes, leaving this world the same way in which he had spent most of his life: in battle.

The royal army watched in horror as their commander dropped to the ground. His once glistening golden armor, which had radiated hope for more than a hundred battles, was now shattered and covered in perfectly perpendicular streams of blood, representing one of Sombra's most sadistic works of art.

Despite the loss of their beloved leader, the general's remaining lieutenants refused to give in, and kept fighting back, determined not to let Canterlot fall. "Do not give up! The battle is not lost yet. Think of your families, think of your foals. We must protect them!"

The other soldiers didn't share their optimism. Horrified by the fall of their battle commander and unable to cope with the unstoppable black tide of crystal ponies, most of the royal army could not find the strength to carry on. Many started to flee, either desperately heading towards Canterlot's main gate, begging their colleagues to open it and let them return into the city or trying to make a run for it. Others just dropped their weapons and knelt, pleading for mercy from their opponents, only to receive a violent death at their hooves.

With insidious joy in his black heart, Sombra set his sights on the final barrier that lay between him and his prize: the great gates of Canterlot city.

Witnessing that they had secured their objective, Sombra's three commanders approached him, and the hulkish earth pony inquired, "Shall I order these maggots to chop down a tree and make a battering ram so we can crush this puny door, my lord?"

Pointing towards the sky, the slender pegasus mare interrupted, "It would be much easier for my pegasi to fly above and try to take control of the gate from the other side. We could then open it and let our forces through."

With a cold monotone, the sword-wielding unicorn proposed, "Digging under the gate might be the fastest way."

Shaking his head, Sombra dismissed the suggestions, "Save your forces' strength. They shall need it when we invade the city. Since I am the king, it is only fitting that I open the gates myself."

Looking around, Sombra could see Equestrian soldiers fleeing, terrified of what was about to happen to them. He could sense their desperation, he could taste their fear and he could feel his dark powers growing. Determined to shatter the barrier, Sombra began channeling shadow magic into his horn. Feeding off the misery and pain which surrounded him, he conjured a massive energy beam which he fired at Canterlot's great gate, fracturing it to pieces.

The explosion made a sound so powerful, it echoed throughout the entire capitol, signaling that its darkest hour had arrived. Upon seeing their city's final defense tumbling, the ponies inside began running for their lives. Soldiers abandoned their post, scuttling towards the barracks, unprepared for the evil which they faced. Stallions and mares rushed frantically to the others part of town, grabbing whatever they could carry.

With a demented glee in his eyes, Sombra gazed at the city which would soon be his. A shining jewel of elegance and beauty, Canterlot was ripe for the taking. Staring towards the horizon, he fixated his sights upon his ultimate prize: the royal castle, the bastion of his two most hated enemies. Behind him, the army of the Crystal Empire followed, screaming like mad as they fantasized about what carnage they would soon bring upon the helpless ponies which dwelled within.

Gathering his generals, Sombra commanded, "Rolling Thunder, I order you to take the Tenebras and secure the western portion of the city. Crush any resistance you encounter and do not let anypony escape! Iron Brand, go with the Penumbras and secure the east. Silent Night, since you are the fastest, take the Dagas Obscuras and fly towards the north. Get there as quickly as possible and seal off any escape paths. We cannot have our guests leaving the party!"

The commanders bowed their heads and rushed to execute their master's orders, alongside the several hundreds of soldiers which poured through the shattered gate.

A torrent of crystal ponies swept through the streets of the once tranquil city, swiftly dispatching any opponents brave or foolish enough to stand in their way. A wicked symphony of screams and lament filled the alleys, accompanied by the sharp sound of steel clashing against steel.

With utmost clam, Sombra made slow yet steady steps towards Canterlot Castle, enthusiastically twirling his scythe through the air, anxious to once again meet the princesses muzzle to muzzle.

Hectic hoof-steps and panicked voices could be heard throughout the castle, as the servants and nobles rushed to escape, knowing that it wouldn't be long before the enemy would barge in through the doors. The once opulent and impeccable hallways of the castle were now teeming with discarded papers, fallen suits of armor, abandoned books and other such paraphernalia.

With a look of extreme fear in his eyes and barely drawing a breath, the royal advisor raced towards the throne room, desperate to reach the princesses. Fighting to make his way against the wave of fleeing stallions and mares, he pushed on with ferocious determination.

Upon reaching his destination, he hastily flung open the doors, gasping desperately for air before proceeding to address the alicorn sisters, "My princesses, the town has been attacked and the invaders are making their way here. You have to flee Canterlot and get to safety."

After rubbing his eyes to make sure he wasn't dreaming, he was left speechless by the sight which greeted them. It was an image nopony had seen in more than a thousand years: the princesses clad in battle armor, holding their weapons high and donning a warrior's look on their faces.

Celestia's golden tunic shone as bright as sunlight, melding perfectly together with her helmet. Her hoof-plates were so sharp they pierced the very floor of the palace. In her fore-hooves she held one of the greatest weapons ever forged: the spear Solarion, the Fury of the Sun, said to have been crafted from an ancient metal in the very heat of the shining star itself.

Luna's attire contrasted and complemented her sister's marvelously. The mare's ebony and blue fur was protected by a sleek dark armor, forged from a unique mix of black silver and onyx. Her helmeted possessed a peculiar accessory: a sharp silver horn, parallel to her own. Thin yet sturdy platinum leggings protected her limbs without hindering her mobility. In her hooves lay the magnificent long-sword Nightingale, the Whisper in the Dark, lean as a piece of paper yet strong enough to cut through steel as if it were butter.

Shaking his head in disbelief, the royal advisor pleaded, "Your highnesses, what are you doing? You cannot hope to fight these monsters. You have to run!"

With a serious tone, Celestia responded, "Are you expecting us to flee without a fight. If we abandon our city and our subjects in their time of need, what right do we have to rule?"

Giving her sister a look of admiration, Luna continued, "These vandals attacked our homes and killed our brothers and sisters. For their transgressions, they shall pay dearly. We will not let Sombra defile our beloved Equestria!"

Cringing his teeth and tearing his mane out in frustration, the advisor insisted, "But, princesses, there's hundreds of soldiers out there. Nopony knows where they came from or how they got here, but they have already seized half the town. If they manage to capture you two …"

Gazing at her spear, Celestia interrupted, "Let them just try! If they are foolish enough to take us on, they will face the full fury of the Sun and Moon. This war will be over by the end of the day!"

Refusing to listen to any more suggestions, the sisters marched forward, heading towards the entrance of the castle with raging courage shining in their hearts. From outside, they could hear the woes of their subjects, as their beloved city was besieged.

Enraged, Luna protested, "For every blow they deal, we shell retaliate with a hundred."

Donning a cold smile, Celestia added, "Hell hath no fury like a mare scorned … let alone two!"

Giving her sibling a stern yet affectionate look, Luna lovingly put her foreleg on Celestia's shoulder and proclaimed, "So much time has passed since we were on the battlefield together. Whatever happens out there, know that there is no pony else I would rather have by my side! Come dear sister, let's see what these cowards are made of and …"

Before Luna could finish her sentence, the front door of the castle burst into pieces and a thunderous boom echoed across the main hallway. A thick cloud of smoke and dust came in from the outside, obscuring the sisters' view.

Eager to engage the enemy, the princesses grasped their weapons firmly and awaited for the horde of invaders to pour in, but, much to their surprise, and eerie still was all that greeted them. Keeping their vigil, Celestia and Luna shared concerned looks as they waited for the smoke to clear.

Suddenly, the silence was broken, and a sinister voice filled the room … an all too familiar voice, "How long has it been? A thousand years, maybe more? Too long, far too long. I owe you two and important debt, which I intend to repay in full!"

In the next moment, the princesses' most hated enemy trotted in through the shattered door of the palace. Much to their surprise, Sombra was alone.

Even though Celestia felt appalled by Sombra's arrogance, she could not help but thank her lucky stars for this opportunity. This was their best chance to slay him and end the war. Pointing her spear towards the king, Celestia exclaimed, "Sombra, you should have cowered in your dark castle and accepted your fate, it would have been much easier for you. The atrocities you have committed will not go unpunished. You will regret ever coming here!"

Giving Celestia a condescending look, Sombra replied, "On the contrary, just seeing your angelic eyes makes the entire trip worthwhile. Long have I waited ... to extinguish their light, PERMANENTLY!"

Drawing upon his dark powers, Sombra conjured two razor-sharp crystal bolts which he launched straight at the sisters' throats.

Acting on instinct, Luna yelled, "Look out," and swung her sword with enviable agility, shattering them to pieces.

In the very next instant, a piercing shriek roared through the corridor as a jolt of abyssal lightning headed towards the princess of the night. Realizing there was not enough time to react, Luna let out a gasp of frustration and lowered her head, hoping to absorb some of the blast with her helmet.

As she braced for impact, Luna heard her sister's voice, "Don't worry, I've got this."

Gazing forward, she saw Celestia had cast a force field around them. When the bolt hit it, it got reflected into three smaller blasts, which flew across the hallway, creating deep cracks in the floor and walls of the grand corridor and causing the room to shake.

Sporting a patronizing smile, Sombra applauded sarcastically and addressed the princesses in a mocking tone, "I see you haven't lost your touch. Delightful. I was actually hoping this would be a challenge!"

Disgusted by how lightly her opponent seemed to be taking the fight, Celestia lashed out, "You dare mock us, you mangy cur!"

Lifting an eyebrow, Sombra retorted, "Now, now my dear, there is no need for such vulgar language. It is unbefitting of a princess. If you insist on hurting me, do so with your weapons, not your words!"

With a cold grin, Luna commented, "Gladly," and immediately flew into the air and lunged at Sombra, pointing her sword directly at his chest.

Moving at demonic speed, Sombra dashed out of the way and swung his scythe in retaliation, only for Luna to block it with her blade.

Looking his left, the king saw Celestia charging towards him, spear-in-hoof. Reaching for his shadow, Sombra tore off another small bit and then brought it near the base his scythe. As it touched the weapon, the small shade began to shift, materializing into another blade, offering the king a double-edged reaper. Surrounded by the two sisters, Sombra spun his scythe, masterfully blocking their incoming attacks. Demonstrating enviable skill, he continued to fight, with one end of his weapon defending against Luna's flurry of blade swings and with the other, blocking the strong attacks from by Celestia's spear.

Noticing that their attacks could not get passed Sombra's defenses, Celestia began gathering prismatic energy into her horn. Anticipating what was about to follow, Sombra sneered mischievously as he quickly teleported away. In the very next moment Celestia launched a solar burst, which, much to her frustration, only succeeded in singing the floor.

Appearing several yards away, Sombra taunted, "That was predictable. You used the same spell the last time we fought as well. Have your skills not improved at all in over a thousand years? Perhaps this battle will actually do you some good."

Furious, Celestia replied, "There is one good thing which will come out of it, your death!"

From her horn, Celestia released three glowing orbs. Imbued with light magic, the projectiles flew through the air in a chaotic spiral pattern, as they made their way towards Sombra.

With supreme clam, the king waited until one of the orbs was a few inches away from him and then quickly slid backwards, sneering as he saw the sphere hit the floor. Noticing the second one coming in fast from above, Sombra quickly conjured a shadow bolt and flung it towards the incoming threat. As the two orbs made contact in midair, their opposite magical essence nullified each other and both of them dissipated. Setting his sights on the final prismatic sphere, incoming from the left, Sombra realized he had no time to cast another spell, so he swung his scythe, deflecting the attack. Celestia's orb flew towards the top of the room, hitting one of the opulent chandeliers attached to the ceiling, sending it tumbling down over the king's location. With great agility, Sombra rolled on the floor and avoid the impact, mere moments before the chandelier smashed onto the ground.

After surviving Celestia's spell untouched, Sombra donned a grimace of condescendence, felling practically invincible. However, while his focus had been on avoid the orbs, Luna had been preparing her own attack. She had conjured three magical circles, situated one in front of the other, which channeled air through them at an impressive speed, creating a wind tunnel. With gale-force on her side, Luna lunged forward like a black arrow, with her sights set on the vicious king.

As the princess dashed past him, she swung Nightingale at his chest, cutting clean through Sombra's silver armor and creating a sharp cut into his torso.

Gasping with pain, Sombra lifted his hoof and touched the wound, his eyes filling with pure rage as he felt the blood running down his abdomen.

The king's groan was music to Luna's ears. Gazing with pride at the red liquid dripping from her sword, Luna threatened her opponent, "Next time, I shall aim for your throat!"

No longer amused, Sombra's look and posture had changed. The demented sparkle in his eyes was now replaced by a tranquil yet calculating stare. The patronizing smirk was gone, and in its place stood an enviable poker-face.

Grasping his scythe tightly, Sombra lauded the princesses. "Well struck! You are indeed very powerful and cunning. I can see why your subjects venerate you so much; they practically worship you like goddesses. Tell me … do you goddesses bleed?"

Surprised by the king's statement yet unwilling to partake in his deceitful games, Celestia and Luna simply refused to respond and pointed their weapons towards Sombra, anxious to strike in tandem.

With a grim tone, Sombra replied to his own question, "You will!"

In the next instant Sombra lunged himself high into air, keeping his sight focused on his two enemies. Drawing upon one of his most insidious abilities, Sombra admonished, "Let's see how powerful you are when the light abandons you. Behold ... infinite darkness."

The king's shadow began to expand, tenebrous tentacles spreading out of it and engulfing the entire room in a pitch-black blanket. In what seemed like an instant, every single sparkle of light disappeared, and the hallway became darker than black.

Having had one of her five senses rendered useless, Celestia could feel her heart thundering in her chest. Unused to fighting like this, and bewildered by the extent of Sombra's shadow magic, she protested, "What foul sorcery is this?"

Drawing on the magic of the Sun, Celestia channeled all the prismatic energy she could muster into her horn, creating a luminescent beacon with which she tried to pierce the darkness. Much to her horror, even with all her power, the light she had created barely allowed her to see a few feet away. Feeling afraid, she turned to her sister, "Luna, can you see anything?"

"Only you, nothing else," replied Luna, as she clenched her sword tightly and waited. Having been surrounded by darkness most of her life, Luna was nowhere near as scared as Celestia, but even she had to admit she had never witnessed such absolute obscurity. Gazing at her sister, Luna herself began feeling doubt when she noticed how Celestia's look of determination and shifted into a confused stare.

Suddenly, Sombra's voice whispered from across the room, "You are afraid … good!"

Trying to pinpoint the origin of the sound, Luna rapidly fired a crescent-moon-shaped bolt towards one of the corners of the hallway but, much to her dismay, the only thing she hit was a shade.

A mischievous laugh echoed through the chamber, as Sombra spoke once again, this time from behind the two sisters, "No, not over there, over here."

Tired of her enemy's taunts, Celestia spun around and released an arcane torrent, hoping to wipe Sombra off the face of the world. However, just as before, all that the spell hit was a shadowy decoy.

Letting out an irritated huff as she felt a volcano of rancor building up in her guts, Celestia forcefully tapped the floor with her fore-hoof as she continued to illuminate different parts of the room, hoping to find her foe, but to no avail.

Moments later, another sound appeared, "I am over here." Before any of the sisters could even react, Sombra's voice rung again, this time from the opposite corner of the hallway, "Also over here." An instant later, three more sinister echoes pierced the ears of the alicorns, "Here … over here," "I am right here," "Behind you!"

As drips of nervous sweat ran down her forehead, Luna spun around aimlessly, a mix of confusion and timidity displayed on her visage. A few minutes ago, confidence shone in her heart. Now hesitation clouded her mind, as it seemed she and her sister were surrounded by an endless number of foes. Frustrated, she cried out, "Where are you, you monster?"

A tenebrous echo resonated in the room, as all the shadows hiding in the darkness responded in unison, "I'm EVERYWHERE!"

Sombra rubbed his fore-hooves together and perversely licked his lips, as he gazed with sinister delight at the confused sisters, from the dark corner in which he was patiently lurking, delighted to see that his shadow clones were proving to be the perfect decoys. Anxious to repay the princesses for wounding him, he conjured two crystal shards and launched them towards his foes.

As the razor-sharp projectiles tore through their flesh, scratching their legs, Luna and Celestia could barely contain their cries of pain, as their hearts sank deeper and deeper into a pit of despair.

Seeing how perfidiously efficient her enemy's tactics were and irked at how ineffective her countermeasures had proven to be, Celestia grinned her teeth so forcefully they almost cracked. Casting away patience and logic, she let out a violent yell and began firing solar beams left and right, aiming chaotically, hoping to eventually hit Sombra.

Luna tried to reach out to her sister, urging her to calm down, but Celestia seemed unwilling to listen. All Luna could do was to be an unwilling spectator at her sibling's tumultuous spectacle of exasperation. Realizing that if this continued Sombra would eventually win, Luna closed her eyes and began to focus, thinking back to the many challenges she had faced when patrolling the night skies. Suddenly, a cocky smile appeared on her face, as a brilliant idea crossed her mind.

Turning towards her sister, Luna yelled, "Celestia, please lower the light!"

Celestia's frustrations grew exponentially, as the stew of rage and malice brewing in her heart was now seasoned with confusion. Unable to understand the logic behind her sister's request, she protested, "Are you serious? We will be completely blind!"

With a brash sneer and conceited stare, Luna retorted, "Have you forgotten that you are talking to the princess of the night?"

Despite her bewilderment, Celestia felt herself calming down, as her sister radiated confidence with the tone of her answer. Putting all her faith in Luna, Celestia did exactly as her sister had asked, hoping that whatever plan she had hatched would prove to be effective.

Surrounded once again by complete darkness and absolute silence, Luna closed her eyes and listened. Having had to face numerous foes during her nightly patrols, she had learned to use all of her five sense in battle.

From his hiding place, Sombra felt his heart pump with delight, as his enemies seemed to be giving up. Wishing to strike the final blow, he began summoning two extremely sharp shadow-steel daggers.

As Sombra's dark magic twisted the matter around him and formed the blades, Luna's ears twitched. In the grim tranquility of the pitch-black hallway, Luna's keen hearing had picked up Sombra's aggressive heartbeat and rapid breaths. Pinpointing his location, Luna firmly grasped her sword and began taking slow but steady steps.

Much to the king's delight, Luna had turned his back on him, and was walking in the opposite direction from where he was hiding. Drooling with satisfaction, Sombra grabbed one of the blades and threw it towards Luna's back, tickled pink with the poetic irony of hitting her in such a spot with a dagger.

As she heard the weapon flying through the air, Luna stopped walking, overjoyed that her plan had worked. Turning around, the princess swung her sword and shattered the projectile, much Sombra's dismay. In the very next instant, she aggressively turned her head directly towards the spot the king was hiding in, gazing at him like a vicious predator. Using her telekinesis, she guided Nightingale through the air at great speed, aiming it at her enemy.

Puzzled to realize he had been discovered, Sombra did his best to dodge the attack, but had little time to react, as the sharp blade tore through his leg-plate and scratched his foreleg.

Turning towards her sister, Luna shouted, "Celestia, aim under the stained glass window with Nightmare Moon on it!"

Without hesitation, Celestia let out an immense solar beam towards the spot her sibling had indicated. She had walked through this hallway a million times before and knew exactly where everything was, despite the pitch-black shroud blanketing the room.

Sombra dropped his scythe and looked in horror at the burst of energy heading towards him. His instinct was to use his shadow speed and dodge, but as the put pressure on his foreleg in order to run, the fresh wound he had received took its toll, and he found himself unable to flee. Not knowing what else to do, he lowered his head and braced for impact.

Sensing its master was in danger, Sombra's shadow refused to let the king fall. Tearing itself off the walls of the grand hallway, it wrapped itself around Sombra as fast as it could, creating a crystal cocoon.

As the sunburst hit, it singed much of the protective barrier, but failed to completely shatter it.

The infinite darkness which had taken hold of the room was now dispelled, and the pristine light of day once again shone through the marvelous stained glass and touched the princesses' faces. Pride glistened in their hearts, as the sisters gazed before them and saw a smoldering crystal shell.

Anxious to finally end it, Luna leaped forward and used her magic to levitate Nightingale back into her forelegs. Letting out a fearsome yell, she swung her sword with immense passion, shattering the cocoon. As the dark crystal broke into a thousand pieces and crumbled to the floor, it revealed only the half-singed mantle of the shadow king.

With a mixture of hope and worry in her voice, Celestia asked, "Is he dead?"

Gazing at the remains, Luna saw no blood, bone or ash. Frowning, she asserted, "I don't think so. Be on the alert dear sister!"

The two alicorns grasped their weapons tightly and soared into the air, analyzing their surroundings with great vigil, knowing the battle was far from over.

Suddenly, Luna noticed an adumbral serpent, crawling onto the floor, slithering for the exit. Knowing it had to be Sombra's shadow-form, she yelled "Over there!" and lunged at it with her sword. "Sombra, you cannot escape justice!"

Suddenly, the eyes of the shadowy serpent began glowing green, as they were fixated upon Luna. The room began to shake and a giant crystal pillar erupted from the ground, plunging towards the two sisters. As it aggressively pushed forwards, it brushed passed Luna at tremendous speed, violently knocking her down onto the floor.

Seeing the massive crystal heading towards her, Celestia struck it with her spear, but that failed to stop its brutal advance. As her weapon was knocked away, she watched helplessly as the crystal continued to expand. The tip of the ragged pillar pushed against her armor, pinning the alicorn next to a wall. Caught between a literal rock and hard place, Celestia pushed back into the wall and struck the crystal pillar with her hooves, trying to break free, but was unable to shatter it.

While she squirmed, Sombra materialized himself on top of the pillar, mere inches away from her face. Enjoying his enemy's predicament, the king gloated, "The guardian angels of Canterlot, about to be vanquished in their own heaven."

Now willing to give in, Celestia protested, "Your threats are empty Sombra. Shadows always fade in the light," but the nervous sweat running down her brow and the doubt reflected in her eyes betrayed her true emotions.

Desperate to escape, Celestia tried to conjure a spell and shatter the crystal, but Sombra quickly zapped her, preventing that from happening.

With wicked glee, he grabbed her muzzle with his fore-hoof and kept it steady in place, as he summoned a shadow-steel war-glaive. Staring down upon Celestia, Sombra taunted, "You are trembling … how interesting. It seems that even in the very heart of heaven, angels can still feel fear!"

Luna finally managed to open her eyes and regain consciousness after her impact with the crystal pillar. Shaking her limbs in hopes of relieving the pain coursing through her body, she looked up and saw Celestia's predicament. Refusing to let anything happen to her beloved sister, Luna immediately grabbed Nightingale and teleported near Sombra, blocking his war-glaive with her blade. Desperate to get the fiend away from her sister, she launched a volley of blows against the king.

Barely able to block Luna's agile attacks, Sombra was forced to teleport away, emerging in the middle of the room.

Finally away from Sombra, Celestia drew upon her magical energies and let out a fierce arcane explosion which shattered the crystal pillar.

Determined to end the battle, Luna conjured several ethereal swords which she flung towards her foe. To make sure he could not evade, she pointed Nightingale forward and spiraled towards Sombra, her flight pattern making her nearly impossible to hit.

Knowing a defensive maneuver was needed, Sombra called upon one of the most devastating spells in his arsenal and surrounded himself in a barrier of black flame. When the mystical swords touched it, they were immediately singed. Grinning sadistically, Sombra patiently waited for Luna to share the same fate, as she rushed towards his dark inferno at great speed.

Horrified to see what had happened, Luna tried to flap her wings backwards and stop her descent, but her speed was already too great to avoid the impact. Desperate, she cast a teleportation spell, but without enough time to concentrate on the destination, it shifted her several feet behind Sombra and just a few inches away from the ground. Because of her momentum, she aggressively hit the floor, dropping her sword and tumbling several yards away.

Eyeing Luna like a voracious shark, Sombra lowered the fire-shield and rushed towards her with his war-glaive, anxious to take advantage of her failure.

Concerned, Celestia quickly landed behind Sombra and fired a cosmic wave towards him. As the projectile came inches away from Sombra's back, his shadow seemed to have a mind of its own and grasped his legs, making him fall to ground.

The wave flew over Sombra and hit the unfortunate Luna, just as she was clumsily trying to get up. The blast was so powerful it knocked her helmet right off, flinging the unconscious princess of the night back down on the floor.

Grabbing her mane with her fore-hooves, Celestia shed tear after tear, unable to believe what had happened. With a sobbing voice, she asked, "What have I done? Luna, are you alright?"

Luna did not respond. She just lay motionless of the floor, her scattered mane covering her face.

Thankful for what had happened and unable to believe his luck, Sombra got up and faced Celestia. A sadistic sneer adorned his face, as he stated, "I had no idea you could be this dishonorable Celestia. You would have shot me in the back?"

With a mix of disgust and bewilderment, Celestia inquired, "How did you see that coming?"

Laughing, Sombra pointed towards his shadow and responded, "I didn't ... but my friend here did! And speaking of friends, you have just taken yours out. Such carelessness!"

Huffing angrily, Celestia charged at Sombra with all of her might, pointing her spear directly at his throat. In retaliation, the king swung his glaive and intercepted her attack. As the two weapons clashed, each opponent pressed on as hard as they could, hoping to shatter the other's defense.

Furious, Celestia gazed at Sombra with utmost repugnance, hatred burning in her eyes as she pushed down on Solarion with all her might. Her look was in complete contrast with the clam and cold smile displayed on the king's visage, as he looked back at the princess, staring directly into her eyes. To Celestia, it simply seemed as if Sombra was trying to intimidate her, but, in reality, he had a far more sinister plan.

As Sombra continued to make eye contact with Celestia, his sorcery was working its way through her brain, reading her dark thoughts and amplifying her doubt. Due to the recent tragic event she had unwillingly caused, her heart and mind were plagued by regret and misery.

Suddenly, Celestia began hearing voices in her head, "You hurt her, you monster!"

Puzzled, Celestia shook her head and tried to focus on the battle. Much to her horror, the voices continued, this time louder than before, "You hate your sister! First you banish her and now you try to kill her. You want her dead. You want what she has. You want the Sun and Moon all to yourself!"

Sensing herself going mad, Celestia leaped backwards and surrounded herself with a force field, hoping to make the voices go away. However, it was too late. Sombra's magic had penetrated her mind, and this allowed the king to project dark visions into her head; visions of her killing her own sister, images of Luna sobbing at her feet while Celestia drover her spear through her heart.

With streams of tears running down her face, Celestia covered her ears and yelled, "No … I would never do that. Shut up, shut up! Stop it! Get out of my head!"

Laughing condescendingly, Sombra retorted, "The truth hurts, doesn't it my dear?"

Feeling the world crumbling around her, Celestia drew upon her inner range and let out a tremendous wail "Enough!" Her fury, combined with her unstable state caused the princess's magic to unwillingly conjure a massive solar eruption.

Proud of his accomplishment, Sombra calmly created a black crystal wall, shielding both himself and the unconscious Luna.

After her violent tantrum, Celestia had seemingly regained control of her mind, the dark voices no longer ringing in her head. Drawing heavy breaths to calm down her rapidly beating heart, she pointed at Sombra and threatened, "This time, when I destroy you, there will be NOTHING left!"

Yawning, Sombra retorted, "Don't make promises you cannot keep, sweet princess. You are outmatched … and also outnumbered."

With that, Sombra disappeared for a moment into the shadows, and three identical copies of himself emerged. The king and his shadow clones surrounded Celestia, delighted by her confusion.

Grasping her spear tightly, Celestia cried out, "Your pathetic parlor tricks and illusions will prove useless," as she lunged towards the Sombra on her left.

With one swift blow, she cleaved clean through his armor, but as she struck, the king dissipated into black dust right before her eyes. Her ears twitched as she heard another Sombra lunging towards her from behind. Preparing to turn around and strike, from the corner of her eye she noticed that the third Sombra had begun to channel energy into his horn. Taking a gamble, she ignored the attack from behind and, instead, pointed her horn towards the third copy of the king.

As the second Sombra reached Celestia, he struck her with his war-glaive, only for it to pass right through her body. Smiling, the princess realized that she had made the right choice and released a scorching blaze towards the final clone, knowing it has to be the real one.

Before he could cast his spell, Sombra was struck by blistering flames which burned clean through his armor, singing his flesh. As his demented yells filled the room, Celestia's face donned a smile of satisfaction, as she mockingly proclaimed, "It's better to burn out than fade away."

Practically purring with satisfaction, Celestia gazed with delight while Sombra rolled on the floor in agony, the flames turning his flesh into ashes. She was determined to enjoy every second of his suffering but, much to her dismay, moments later the king vanished before her eyes, turning into a cloud of black dust, just like the other two shadow clones had done.

Celestia's satisfactory grin turned into a gasp of horror, as she realized she had been fooled. What she thought was Sombra had proven to be just another illusion, which had simply pretended to be in agony. Thinking back, she scratched her head and pondered, "How can this be? They were all illusions?"

Suddenly, Sombra appeared behind Celestia, stepping out from the shadows in which he had been hiding. With a wicked tone, he whispered into her left ear, "It seems plenty can be done with petty illusions," before proceeding to blast her with an immense jolt of abyssal lightning, stunning the alicorn and sending her tumbling down on the floor.

The perfidious monarch had shifted into the shadow realm and, instead of coming out himself, he created three illusions which he sent out to fight the princess. While Celestia had been distracted, he had slipped out and quickly cloaked himself, sneaking behind her, waiting for his chance.

And now, he had done it. Both sisters lay motionless on the floor, their weapons scattered and their once pristine armors smudged by the marks of the battle.

Looking at the graceful bodies of his two defeated foes, a slew of perfidious ideas began flowing through Sombra's mind. Licking his lips perversely, the king whispered, "Vae victis."

To prevent Celestia and Luna from being rescued, Sombra encased the unconscious princesses in crystal cages, before proceeding to zap their horns, covering them in tiny crystal shards which hindered their magic. Knowing that he would have time to play with his pray later, Sombra decided to inspect the rest of the castle, hoping to find more nobles he could take as prisoners.

As he trotted around the corridors and chambers of the royal palace, Sombra could not help but marvel at their elegant and welcoming design, in complete contrast to the somber and menacing aspect of his own fortress. Looking around, the king expected to find numerous stallions and mares of royal birth cowering in their rooms, but, much to his disheartenment, Canterlot Castle appeared to be empty.

Staring out a window, he saw a scene which filled his black heart with sadistic pride: his forces were scouring the city, crushing any pony who stood in their way. Crystal Empire soldiers marched through the streets, brutally wounding any royal guard or peace-keeper they came across, confiscating all weapons and forcing everypony else into their homes. The grand opera and theater were burning and many monuments to the princesses and other heroes had been shattered.

Despite his satisfaction, Sombra knew there was no time to celebrate. If he could not somehow seal off the city, the bulk of the Equestrian army would arrive in less than two days and take Canterlot back, undoubtedly taking vengeance upon its occupants.

As he made his way past the royal bedrooms, he stopped for a moment, as he could hear a distinctive rattle. Opening the door, he noticed the sound had gotten stronger. Looking around, he saw a daintily decorated room, overflowing with opulence and boasting a purple and white chromatic. Approaching the bed, he heard a frightened gasp.

Drawing upon his magic, Sombra created a powerful telekinetic wave and directed it beneath the bed, sending the pony which was cowering under it flying through the room. Judging from the aspect of the chamber, the king had expected to find a fair damsel. Much to his surprise, before him stood a white stallion with a blond mane, still wearing silk pajamas despite it being well passed mid-day.

Even though the stallion was a unicorn whose appearance showed signs of royal birth, his attitude was most inappropriate for a noble, as he cowered on the floor and whimpered, spouting unintelligible babble.

In an odd way, Sombra was amused. The way in which the stallion trembled, practically cuddling up like a foal as the king took slow yet heavy steps towards him, was a refreshing change of pace for Sombra, who had just fought one of the hardest battles in his life against two extremely determined opponents.

After conjuring his favorite weapon, the shadow-steel scythe, Sombra began to playfully twirl it around, looking down with condescendence upon his unfortunate pray.

Before Sombra could say anything, the white stallion began sobbing, imploring, "No, no … don't kill me. Please … please … I'm important, please … no!"

Intrigued, Sombra asked, "Really? How important are you?"

Between hiccups, wails and desperate gasps for air, the stallion replied, "I am the prince. You cannot kill a prince … please! It is forbidden by the laws of war. I am the prince and …"

Before his victim could finish his sentence, Sombra brutally picked him up by the mane and slammed him next to the wall, putting the blade of his scythe right next to his throat. Staring the white unicorn dead in the eyes, the king exclaimed, "Any pony who must repeatedly say 'I am the prince' is no true prince."

With his heart thundering in his chest as he felt Sombra's cold steel against his skin, the frightened stallion pleaded, "But I am. I am Blueblood, prince of Equestria …"

Carefully looking at the young pony, Sombra retorted, "Blueblood. Yes … I believe my spies have informed me about Equestria's prince. But, I find it hard to believe that you are him. You don't look much like your mother, princess Celestia, and your attitude …."

Trembling, Blueblood interrupted, "She is not my mother, she is my aunt. I am her closet living relative, you can check the royal records. Please, you have to believe me … I am the prince!"

Laughing arrogantly, Sombra stated, "So, in over a thousand years Celestia could not produce an heir. I don't know what is more pathetic, that absurd fact, or you! Even if you are the prince, I have captured both your aunts and I don't think the ponies of Canterlot care more about you than about them. So tell me … is there any reason why I shouldn't just sink this scythe in your throat right now?"

Upon hearing those words, Blueblood felt the world crumbling around him. Never in his privileged existence had he ever been in danger, let alone in a position where his life was at stake. Filled to the brim with horror, all the prince could do was shiver, as he spat out a pathetic plea, "No … please, I implore you, don't kill me. I'll give you gold, jewels, anything you want, just spare my life. I beg you!"

Unimpressed, Sombra sarcastically proclaimed, "Such generosity … I have always wanted gold and jewels."

Disappointed by how pathetic his prisoner seemed, Sombra pushed his blade further into the prince's throat, creating a small sharp wound on his pristine skin. Relishing Blueblood's increasingly cringe-worthy cries for mercy, the king commented, "I have to go secure the city, and since I cannot find much use for you, I am afraid that I must …"

"I can help you," cried out Blueblood, desperate so save his life.

After a patronizing chuckle, Sombra indulged his victim, "I know I shall regret wasting more time, but how can YOU possibly aid me?"

Struggling to gather his thoughts, yet determined to do anything needed to survive, Blueblood continued, "I can help you secure the city … just please spare my life! I can be useful."

The mixture of contempt and disgust on Sombra's face had now shifted to one of intrigue, as he demanded, "Go on…"

"The city has been under attack before. In order to help protect it, the princesses have created a guardian orb, to defend against outside invaders. Once activated, it will create a magical barrier around Canterlot, shielding it against outside intruders," replied Blueblood.

Much to his surprise, Sombra found this information quite useful. Removing his scythe from the prince's neck, he asked, "Where is this orb located, and how can I use it?"

After rubbing his wound with his fore-hooves, Blueblood retorted, "In the highest tower of Canterlot Castle. It requires a lot of magical energy to activate and it does take time for the force field to form. There is catch though, the barrier works both ways, meaning nopony can get out or it."

Upon hearing the news, Sombra's face lit up with mischievous joy. He could not believe the fortuitous hoof fate had dealt him. This device was exactly what he needed to make sure Canterlot would fall under his grasp. Looking at his victim, the king realized that Blueblood might possess even more valuable information and was not as utterly useless as he had initially thought.

Just as the prince was begging to calm down, Sombra swung his scythe and struck a spot on the wall mere inches away from his throat, clipping away a bit of his mane. The impact was so strong that the weapon's blade pierced clean through the solid stone. Horrified, Blueblood yelled in a high-pitched voice, louder than a frightened filly, and curled up on the floor.

Lowering his head, Sombra threatened, "I will find out if this … orb … actually exists. If you leave this room, or if I discover that you are lying, I will come for you … and when I do, your neck will the least painful place my blade will go in, understand?"

Unable to find the courage to respond, Blueblood merely nodded his head rapidly and continued to sob.

After pulling his scythe out of the wall, the king went directly for the tallest tower, aggressively breaking down any door in his wake. When he finally got there, his eyes lit up as he saw a dark blue orb in the middle of a peculiar room.

Realizing that if he would ever lose control of Canterlot he would lose the war, and very likely his life, Sombra knew what he had to do. Drawing upon all of his remaining power, he fired a massive stream of energy towards the sphere, powering it up.

After the artefact was fully charged, it began blanketing the city in mystical dome, which slowly fell down from the sky, making its way towards the edges of the town. Looking outside, Sombra could see the magical veil spreading across the horizon. Judging from its speed, the king estimated that the barrier needed at least several hours to reach the outer walls of Canterlot, explaining why it could not have been used to protect against his surprise attack. Fortunately for the monarch, time was now on his side.

Going towards the tallest balcony, the place from which Celestia would often address her subjects, Sombra looked down upon the city and relished the thought that he would soon have total dominance over Canterlot.

The king's gambit had worked. He had bet everything on a risky plan, but it had paid off. The city was now his.

Using the king's voice, a spell very similar to the princesses' Canterlot voice, he addresses his newly acquired subjects, "Ponies of Canterlot, rejoice. Your city has joined the glorious Crystal Empire and your benevolent king has graced you with his presence. Should you chose to be wise and cooperate, I shall honor you with mercy. Should you choose stupidity and oppose my forces, I shall smite you all down. If you are still clinging to a false hope of rescue, know this: your princesses are captured and your city will soon be completely impenetrable from the outside. Allow me to welcome you all to the new world order!"

Gazing down upon the once peaceful city, Sombra was overjoyed as he sensed the desperation and anguish of its denizens, negative energies which only served to fuel his dark powers even more. Triumphant, he stepped down and walked back towards the hallway.

Soon, he would have a city to run … but first, there were two mares which he had to take very special care of.

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