"What just happened?"
Fluttershy was, understandably, upset over what had just occurred to them. As far as the group knew, Rainbow had gone off to try and stop a tornado that had just come out of nowhere. Although the tornado in question seemed to have been successfully stopped, the group, as of yet, could not see their friend anywhere, sparkling a great deal of concern from all of them.
"I don't know. I saw her fly into the tornado and then....I don't know.....I think something might have hit her." Applejack said.
Twilight, who was still getting back to her hooves after having been knocked about by the tornado, looked at Applejack with confusion.
"Something hit her? What? A changeling?"
Applejack shook her head.
"I don't know. All I know is that I can't see her anywhere."
As concerned for Rainbow as they were, they all knew that this situation was made even worse by the fact that, without her, their plan to use the elements of harmony wouldn't work. Twilight, knowing she would have to take charge here, made a decision.
"We have to keep going."
The rest of them, Trixie included, looked at her as though she'd gone mad.
"I know what you're going to say, but it's our only choice. If Rainbow's okay, then she knows the plan, to meet at the palace and use the elements. If not.....then we still have a responsibility to do what we can to stop Sombra."
The group wanted to say something, to convince her that they should stay and wait for Rainbow to come back at the very least. But deep down they all knew that Twilight's plan was the right one. Looking at each other, it was clear that nopony was happy about all this, least of all Twilight. The purple unicorn turned from her friends and looked back towards their destination, the royal palace. It wasn't too far now. It wouldn't take much longer to reach it. And given how bad the battle above seemed to be going, she knew they had no time to waste.
And so, she ran off towards the palace, with her friends following close behind.
As she looked out upon her beloved city, under siege and set ablaze, Celestia wanted to do nothing more than get down to her knees and weep. Many ponies lives would have been ruined by this attack, their homes and livelihoods destroyed. She had always prided herself on being a protector of this world and those who dwelled within, and here she was, standing in the middle of a city nearly brought to it's knees. The only comfort she could offer herself was that, with the population down in the crystal caverns, they could at least keep civilian casualties down.
However, as she stood outside the front doors of the royal palace, alone, she knew this was small comfort. Looking down the steps leading from the door, at the empty street below, she wondered to herself if he would come, if he would face her. But she knew he would. All that he had done so far had been to hurt her. There was no chance he wouldn't take this opportunity, especially since he was now in an overwhelming position of power.
And then, a feeling crept upon her. As though an icy grip had taken hold of her heart. it was a feeling she knew well, as one sensitive to magic would know. Her expression was stoic, as she wanted, not wanting to allow herself to be disturbed his this presence. Closing her eyes, she focused, sensing the dark force grow closer and closer, until finally, it stopped approaching. She knew what would be there when she opened her eyes, and as she did so, her instincts were right.
For there he was. Standing just a few feet away from her, on the steps leading up to the palace, was Sombra. Her son. A stallion she had not laid eyes on in over a thousand years. The sheer force of dark magic that was being given off by him was immense, no doubt a side-effect of having used it for so long. His eyes were glowing bright red with powerful energy and, as she'd feared, the alicorn amulet was upon his chest. But it was his expression that unnerved her the most. She's expected perhaps some gloating, or some cocky over-confidence. Instead, he looked at her with a gaze that almost pierced her. The kind of look that was reserved only for those whom a person hated with great intensity.
As he stepped forward, his tone reflected that hate.
"I have returned to you........mother."
After all these centuries, Celestia felt bitter at hearing herself be called that by him, which was something she was sure to let him know.
"You are no longer any child of mine."
In spite of the tension, Sombra afforded himself a brief chuckle.
"Ah yes, I'd forgotten you had a new favourite these days. However, I doubt she'll be as great as you once thought she'd be."
Celestia had to restrain herself at that comment. No doubt he was referring to Twilight, as well as what he had done to her recently. Her voice reflected that anger she felt as she spoke.
"What you did to that girl was unforgiveable. Her and everypony else. And I will see to it that you do not lay a hoof on another."
Sombra laughed again.
"You seek to protect these creatures? In which case mother I must say that you're doing a marvellous job of it so far. An alicorn vanquished, a city on fire, and you stand here just waiting for me. Oh yes, I see the great protector truly takes her responsibilities seriously."
Celestia narrowed her eyes at him.
"This conflict is between you and me. No other need be harmed for our grievances with each other."
The smile faded from Sombra's face, replaced by a look of utter seriousness.
"For once mother.......we agree."
Without warning, Sombra' horn glowed bright red as he aimed it towards Celestia. He shot out a massive burst of magical power, enhanced by the magic of the alicorn amulet. Celestia only just had time to erect a barrier between them, but the power of Sombra's attack was so great that to force her and her barrier backwards, right through the doors of the palace behind her an into the main entrance hall. Sombra stepped forward, into the hall, his blast continuing. Celestia tried her best to hold it back but she knew she'd never stand a chance in this fight if she remained on the defensive.
She spread her wings and flew into the air, above Sombra's attack. Sombra noticed this just in time to see Celestia shot a blast at him from her own horn. But even knowing that attack was coming, Sombra did not move. Instead, he changed himself, as he often did, into a cloud of black smoke. In this non-physical state, Celestia's magic simply passed right through him, charring the ground behind him instead. She stopped her attack, allowing Sombra to change himself back. His horn then glowed again, but this time, he simply vanished with a flash of light.
Celestia was war now. Teleportation spells were something she'd taught him personally, and she knew he was good at them. Suddenly, she heard the sound of the spell from behind her. Just as she thought, he was attempting to attack her from behind. But before Sombra could hit her with his own magic, Celestia also cast a teleportation spell, disappearing before his attack could strike her. The dark unicorn growled with frustration at this, but then smiled devilishly as a new idea came to him. He concentrated hard on his magic and, with great effort, sent a wave of powerful magic in all directions.
Because of the wide-spread effect of this magic, Celestia, who was appearing some distance away, was knocked back as soon as she re-appeared. The blast hurt her, but it also damaged the surrounding room, shattering many of the hall's stained-glass windows. Celestia landed on the ground, still feeling pain from the attack, but she kept her eyes on Sombra, who stepped forward, his eyes still glowing. The princess readied herself for another blast, but it did not come.
Instead, Sombra used his magic to levitate all of the pieces of shattered window glass in the hall. Celestia looked around as the jagged pieces of glass all turned in mid-air, with their sharpest point aimed at her. Then, Sombra used his power to shoot all the pieces straight at her, with rapid speed. Celestia quickly raised another magical barrier just as they struck. The thousands of pieces hitting her barrier was like the sound of some deadly rain, but the barrier held, much to Sombra's irritation.
With the last piece breaking itself upon the barrier, Celestia lowered it, and the two simply stared angrily at each other.
"I see the years haven't dulled your power mother." Sombra commented.
"I have strength enough for this."
The dark unicorn then smirked.
"And how can you beat me when you can't even know that what you face is but a shadow?"
Celestia took only a few moments to realise what was being said to her. The Sombra that stood before her then, with no warning, vanished in a puff of smoke. An illusion, she realised, no doubt conjured up while she was focusing on keeping the glass at bay. Her eyes widened with realisations as she quickly spun around, only just in time to see the true Sombra right behind her, letting off a powerful magical blast right at her. This time, she did not have time to react or defend herself, and the attack struck. She screamed out in pain as the sheer force of the attack pushed her back. After what seemed like ages, Sombra finally let up, stopping his attack.
The magic disappeared and Celestia, now exhausted from this ordeal, finally collapsed to the ground. The side of her body, where the attack had hit her, was charred and still smouldering somewhat, and was without question agonizingly painful. Her breaths were short and rapid as she tried her best to ignore the pain. But her attention was then drawn to the sound of hoof-steps approaching her, getting closer. Opening her eyes, she saw Sombra stand right next to her collapsed form, looking menacing as he gazed down upon her.
"Oh how the mighty have fallen."
He knelt down and lowered his voice.
"I see now that my quest for an alicorn life was misguided mother. I did not need such a status to be powerful, to stave off death. I achieved all this myself, without having to change."
Celestia, in spite of her pain, spoke out.
"And in doing so, you gave up everything that made you who you were. You were happy once. Kind. Compassionate. You gave all of it up to become this. You allowed your fear to rule you my son.|"
Sombra frowned at that as Celestia continued.
"You pushed your friends away. You pushed ME away. You isolated yourself and became corrupt by your fear of death. Corrupted until it was all you could think about. You are no king Sombra......you are a slave......to fear."
Sombra's anger grew within, but he did not let it out, instead allowing his mother to carry on in spite of her condition.
"You had so much potential once, and you squandered it in your selfish quest for self-preservation. You ruined the lives of others just to benefit yourself."
Celestia looked up at him, her eyes now filled with scorn for the powerful stallion.
"........And your father would be ashamed of you."
At the mention of his father, Sombra finally lost it. He bared his teeth angrily and his horn began to glow a fierce red in colour, as he aimed it towards his mother, who was now powerless to defend herself.
"Then allow me the honour.......of sending you to him!"