The pain was great, but she ignored it. All that mattered to her now was that her own son stood above her, ready to end her life without the slightest hesitation. His horn glowed a bright red and his eyes bore a look of great anger. Sombra had won. After all of her hopes, her plans, her belief that things would turn out, all she had done was delayed the inevitable. Imprisoning him a thousand years ago hadn't stopped him, nor had his defeat at the Crystal Empire when he was free. She had failed to stop him completely, and now she was about to pay the price.
"Well mother......any last words?"
In truth, there were many things she wanted to say to him. But she also knew that it didn't matter now. Instead, she closed her head and gently laid it on the ground, waiting for him to just get on with it. Seeing this reaction in her, Sombra's frown deepened.
"So be it."
With her eyes closed, all Celestia could hear was the sizzling sound of Sombra's magic grow closer, no doubt from him aiming his horn at her. But then another sound emerged. The sound of something approaching at rapid speed. She opened her eyes just in time to see something flying fast through the shattered windows, straight at Sombra. The dark unicorn didn't react in time and was impacted by the flying object, forcing him back towards one of the nearby walls and slamming him into it.
Celestia could then see what had attacked him. It was a pegasus mare, with green fur and a bright yellow mane, looking at Sombra with a look of hate in her eyes.
"No more! I can't let you hurt anypony else!" She said.
Sombra's expression was one of shock as the mare pinned him against the wall. That look soon turned to one of anger as his eyes, and horn, glowed red once more. Lightning Dust's eyes widened as she attempted to back away quickly to get away from his inevitable counter-attack. But she wasn't fast enough, and soon a blast of crimson magic burst forth from Sombra's horn and engulfed her. Caught in this magic, the mare screamed out in pain as Sombra stepped forward.
"You pitiful little creature! You dare betray me! You......DARE!!!!"
With that, Sombra used his magic to slam Lightning against the opposite wall, with her still screaming out in pain from his magic. Sombra stepped forward as his expression turned from one of anger to one of sadistic pleasure.
"But I will not end your life for this Lightning. Oh no. I will hurt you far worse than that. I brought down an alicorn, and I can do the same to you!"
He concentrated hard on his magic and the pain in Lightning, if possible, became even more unbearable. There was a bright flash of light, causing Celestia to once more closer her eyes to avoid it. But the light soon dimmed and she opened her eyes once again. She looked over to where Lightning had fallen, and gained a look of horror on her face. For Lightning was lying there, unmoving but still alive. But what shocked Celestia was that the mare was not as she was before the flash of light.
She had no wings.
Celestia looked over at Sombra, who now looked back at her.
"She wanted to be the best flier in the world. Now she will never fly again."
The grin on Sombra's face as he said those words sickened Celestia to no end. But a sudden fear came into her as her son approached her again, his horn and eyes glowing, no doubt ready to finish what he started a few moments ago. But this time, Celestia kept her eyes open defiantly. Sombra stopped just a few feet away from her and aimed his horn at her.
Celestia braced herself, ready for what would be a painful end to her lift. But, instead of firing, Sombra began to, rather unexpectedly, hesitate. Celestia looked confused as he seemed to almost shiver in place. His hoof then slowly raised up from the ground. A look of frustration and pain crossed his face, almost as though he was fighting his actions. The fallen princess had no idea what was going on, only that something was happening that Sombra didn't want to happen.
Then, much to her shock, Sombra's hoof placed itself over his alicorn amulet, which resulted in even more struggling from him. The princess looked on as, with one mighty tug, Sombra ripped the amulet from his chest, causing the red glow from both his horn and his eyes to fade. As if to make the situation even more shocking, Sombra then threw the amulet to the side, onto the floor. Then something happened to him. His expression of frustration disappeared, replaced by one of confusion, an emotion he shared with Celestia at this point.
Then, a look of realisation passed to him, as his eyes widened, as though he suddenly understood something. Spinning around, he looked right towards the entrance to the palace. Celestia followed his gaze and saw something very unexpected standing there. Two unicorn mares. One a light blue in colour, which she did not recognise. The other was one very familiar to her indeed. Twilight Sparkle, bearing the element of magic on her head. Shortly after, Celestia saw the other element bearers arrive, now standing on either side of the two unicorns. Both unicorns had a look of determination on their faces as Sombra took a step forward.
"You?! But.....how?" He asked.
Twilight gave a small smile.
"You can enter our minds.....so we can enter yours!"
Celestia noted that Sombra still had his back turned to her. She realised that this was her only chance. Quickly, she got to her hooves and aimed her horn at the alicorn amulet cast aside on the ground. Sombra turned just as her horn began to glow. Realising what she was about to do, he ran straight for the amulet. But he was too late, as Celestia shot the most powerful blast she could manage in spit of her injury. Sombra looked on in dismay as his precious amulet was struck, cracking the red jewel at it's centre.
"NO!!!" He called out.
The dark unicorn charged towards the discarded amulet, leading to Twilight and the others near her to also run towards it in an attempt to keep it away from him. Sombra saw this and shot a blast of magic towards them, causing them to back away, giving him just enough time to reach his goal. Using his own magic, he levitated the amulet off the ground and attached it back to his chest. He focused on his magic once more and his horn began to glow. Everypony there began to step backwards, worried that perhaps he could still use it. But those fears soon disappeared as they saw Sombra looking increasingly worried. The cracked jewel on the amulet began to spark, as his the magic on Sombra's horn. He looked worried, and tried to yank the amulet off him. But something was keeping it stuck to him. He began to panic, trying harder and harder to get it off.
The others all looked on as his horn and eyes began to pour out vast amounts of red magical energy, which was clearly causing him a great deal of stress and pain. They didn't know how to react, and soon they were unable to, for his grunts of frustration soon became ones of distress as the power of the broken amulet began to overwhelm him completely, pouring out magic from him as though it was a raging river during a rainstorm. He was on his knees at this point, desperately trying to get the thing off, but the magic kept coming, weakening him as it began to leave him.
Eventually, he let go of the amulet, looked up at the ceiling and screamed with agony. Magical burst out of him and straight upwards, breaking through the ceiling and shooting out into the sky like a beacon. The others covered their eyes as the light became almost blinding.
The fighting outside had reached a stalemate. Some of the dragons had been beaten by Luna's efforts and, although the changeling army still outnumbered that of the ponies, the royal guard were able to hold their ground. But then, in the midst of the fighting, a shot of red energy could be seen bursting out of the top of the royal palace, catching everyone off-guard and drawing their attention, bringing an end to the fighting. As they all kept their eyes on the strange occurrence, something began to happen to the dragons.
They began to shake their heads, the glow from their eyes beginning to fade. The spell which ad enchanted them all had apparently lost it's power, and many of them soon came back to their senses. Seeing the devastation around them and realising that they were far from their homes, many of them immediately turned tail and flew away from the battlefield and from Canterlot. The changelings saw this and knew immediately what it meant. One of the larger drones frowned at the sight of this and flew upwards, addressing the others.
"My brothers! Sombra has failed! By order of the Queen......RETREAT!!!"
The other drones needed no encouragement after that. With that command given, they all abandoned their own individual fights and flew back in the direction they came from, back towards the hive in the wastelands. The defending ponies looked on with joy as the dragons and changelings abandoned the battlefield. They all cheered out, their hearts lifted by this apparent victory. Princess Luna also joined in the cheers, having largely been exhausted by her own encounters with Sombra's forces. But she knew she would have to get back to her sister soon to find out what it was that just happened.
As she flew towards the palace, something was happening on the ground. Discord, who had been encased in stone by Sombra's magic, began to shake. Cracks appeared in the layer of stone imprisoning him, and soon, the layer began to break apart and shatter with his movement, the spell having also lost it's power over him. With a few stretches, Discord was free, and collapsed on one knee after his efforts to break out of the stone. Looking around, he gained an expression of confusion as he not only saw no invading changelings, but also heard cheers from the ponies.
"What did I miss?"
The ponies looked on, not quite believing what had happened. Sombra, the great enemy, was now lying motionless on the floor. The alicorn amulet on his chest, having apparently exhausted it's vast supply of magic, shattered into mere dust on the floor. All they heard from the dark unicorn was the sound of his breathing, with great difficulty. In this lull, Twilight rushed over to Princess Celestia and helped her up to her hooves again. The princess looked down at her pupil and smiled appreciatively.
"Thank you Twilight. I don' know how you did it, but your diversion may have just saved all of us."
Twilight smiled back at her. But that smile faded as she looked over to Sombra again. To her surprise, and the surprise of everypony, something was happening to him. His dark grey fur was beginning to grow more pale in it's colour, and his jet-black mane was becoming white. His face was becoming gaunt for some reason, and these changes all led to Twilight looking up at Celestia with confusion.
"What's happening to him?" She asked.
Celestia gained a look of great discomfort as she answered her student.
"Sombra has stayed alive all these centuries because of his great magical power. But using the damaged amulet burned it all out."
The princess looked down at Twilight, her expression one of seriousness.
"His age is catching up to him."
Twilight's eyes widened with horror. She felt no warmth towards this stallion. He had hurt her and many others during his life. She knew he had to have been brought down one way or another. But this fate, to have his life end like this, was something not even she could have seen coming. Had she known this was what would happen, she didn't know if she could have done it. Regardless though, it WAS happening, and Celestia walked over to the still-unmoving form of Sombra, her movements somewhat limping from her injury.
Sombra, his breathing still difficult, looked up as Celestia reached him.
"Well......it seems victory is yours mother. Does it bring you joy? To see me like this?"
Celestia frowned at that comment.
"I take no pleasure in seeing anypony like this. Not even you, even after everything you've done."
Sombra frowned himself, letting out a rather painful cough before speaking again.
"How noble of you. You'll forgive me if I don't quite believe you."
The princess’ frown remained.
“Is that all you have to say to me? After all these years. All the things we’ve done to each other…….and that’s all?”
Sombra looked away.
“If I said more…….would it change anything?”
Celestia considered that question carefully, and then let out a sigh as she gave him her honest answer.
Sombra did not reply, instead just remained on the floor looking away from her. Celestia said nothing, merely closed her eyes and turned her head, ready to walk away. Before she did however, she felt something on her hoof. Opening her eyes, she looked down and saw Sombra' had grabbed onto her with his own hoof.
"Wait......I.......I would like somepony with me during.......during my end."
The princess remained silent. It would have been easy for her to reject his request and just leave him there. He had hurt her beyond words, forcing her to witness and feel great pain in her years both from his betrayal of her, and from what he had done to so many of her people. But seeing him like this, at the very end of his life, powerless and unable to defend himself, she couldn't do it. In spite of what others might have wanted her to do, she knelt down to the now-greying stallion.
"I.......I'm dying......aren't I?" He asked.
Celestia closed her eyes and nodded. Sombra looked away from her and leaned his head against the floor. The look on his face said it all. He'd given up.
"I........I don't want.....to go."
Celestia opened her eyes again. It was clear to those looking at her that she was fighting to hold back tears, as evidenced by the wobble in her voice as she spoke.
Sombra's breathing became even weaker. But he had enough strength in him to say something else. To speak his final words, both to Celestia, and to everypony.
The princess' eyes began to well up as she lowered her head towards him, the anger she had once bore towards him now gone from her face.
"I know." She replied.
Sombra's pained breathing was all the more evident to the other ponies. They'd remained silent during this entire time, merely looking on as Celestia, still keeling next to him, kept her eyes on him. The princess watched as her child forced another breath, and another, and another, until finally, he let out his last exhale, his body now devoid of even the slightest movement. They all knew now, he was gone. Celestia tried her best to remain stoic, but the tears in her eyes betrayed the heartbreak she was experiencing.
Raising her hoof, she placed them on Sombra's brow and passed it over his eyes, closing them,, before saying her own final words to him. Words she'd been denied the opportunity to say for over a thousand years.