No matter how many times she wandered these tunnels, she could never get used to just how cold it was down here. Lightning Dust had never felt comfortable in walking within the hive of the changelings, but at the very least she didn't have to worry about them attacking her. As Sombra's agent, she'd been allowed to move freely within the mountain stronghold, so even when she walked by the many changeling drones here, they paid her no mind.
She had just returned from an errand Sombra had sent her on, to retrieve something of his from a cave deep within the Everfree Forest. It had taken some time to find, but she had been successful in this take. Now, she was back, and looking for Sombra to return it to him. However, he was not in his usual quarters, so she had taken to looking around much of the rest of the mountain. As time went on, she started to become annoyed, mostly from her having to continuously carry her saddle-bags on her back.
Eventually, she swallowed her pride and eventually asked one of the nearby changeling drones where he was. They pointed her in the direction of the chambers of the Queen of the changelings, Chrysalis. Those chambers were right in the centre of the hive, but it didn't take long for Lightning to get there. Lightning figured that Sombra must be discussing some new plan with Chrysalis, or perhaps some new battle plan. Regardless, it wasn't long before she found herself before the heavy stone doors leading to the Queen's chamber.
Lightning noticed, to the right of the door, there was a hook sticking out of the wall, upon which hung a large red cloak. She ignored it however as she saw that the door had two drones standing guard outside. Drones who, as Lightning approached, blocked her path and hissed angrily at her. She narrowed her eyes at them.
"I'm here for Sombra. I have something of his."
One of the drones shook his head.
"You wait! Sombra is with the Queen."
Lightning looked at the drone, then to the door, then back to the drone before speaking again.
"What's he doing?" She asked.
The drones looked at each other before one of them answered.
"Sombra and the Queen were pleased over their victory over the purple alicorn. They decided to......celebrate."
It didn't take long for lightning to figure out what was being implied by that. Her better judgement, not to mention her stomach, decided that it was probably better not to enquire further. But then her mind returned to what the drone had just told her. Victory against a purple alicorn? That must be a reference to Twilight Sparkle. And if they'd achieved victory then that mist have meant that Sombra's plan had worked. The princess must have fallen into his trap. And that could only mean one thing.
All of a sudden, the stone door behind the drones began to slowly open. The drones quickly got back to their posts on either side of it before anypony saw them. Lightning kept her eyes on the door as it opened and, sure enough, a large grey stallion with black mane walked out of it. His hooves and head were clad in a dark iron armour of some sort and his eyes were glowing green. It was as Lightning had suspected. Sombra had regained his physical form. She'd never seen him like this before, and needless to say, he was an intimidating sight.
Sombra meanwhile didn't really pay her much attention. He merely walked over to the red cloak that was near the door and used his magic to levitate it over to him and then draped it over his back. After clasping it to the neck section of his helmet, he finally looked at her.
"Ah, Lightning. I see you've returned. Was your task successful?" He asked.
Lightning hesitated for a moment, still in shock over seeing Sombra back to full strength like this. But then she snapped out of it and turned her attention to her saddle-bags. She placed a hoof inside one of them and pulled out a locked wooden box. Before she could say anything, it was levitated out of her hooves by Sombra's magic. She looked on as it hovered in front of him. His eyes glowed even brighter, causing sounds of creaks and cracks in the box. After a few moments of this, the box shattered.
The contents of the box were still hovering in front of Sombra. It was an amulet of some sort. Dark and metal like Sombra's armour. It was crafted in the shape of a horned pony with wings. An alicorn. At it's centre was a bright red jewel. Sombra smiled as he gently levitated the object into his hoof.
"The alicorn amulet. It's been a long time since I last laid my eyes upon this. It failed me once before. But now, it will serve another purpose."
Lightning raised her eyebrow at that statement, but her confusion was dwarfed only by her concern for what Sombra now had in his possession. The alicorn amulet. She'd heard tales of such a thing back when she was just a filly. A powerful artefact capable of increasing the magical power of a unicorn. She almost shuddered at the prospect of what it would do to Sombra. A feeling that only deepened when she saw him place it right on the clasp of his cloak.
A few moments passed and his eyes began to glow even brighter than usual, their green colour replaced with a deep red. Sombra grinned and his horn began to glow.
"Oh yes! Power! I'd almost forgotten what this felt like! To walk around, strong and mighty! I have not felt this in over a thousand years!"
He then turned to Lightning, still smiling.
"And I assure you, I do not intend to waste this opportunity."
Lightning looked at him, concerned.
"What's your next move?" She asked.
Sombra looked over at the changeling drones guarding the door before facing her once more.
"Although the changelings are powerful allies, we'll need far more muscle than they if we are to successfully launch out attack on Equestria. My task now is to recruit some more fearsome allies."
Lightning tilted her head. More fearsome allies? The changelings were some of the nastiest creatures she'd ever encountered. What could Sombra have been thinking of? Before she had time to ask, she saw Sombra's horn begin to glow. There was a blinding flash of light and, before she could react, Lightning Dust was no longer in the place she was a few moments ago. It took time for her eyes to adjust, and when they did, she did not believe what she was seeing.
She was in a rocky area, not unlike the wastelands that surrounded the changeling hive. But what was different here was that, all around the area was a tall ridge encircling it. She was in a large crater of some sort. An all across the ground there were large pools of lava, some bobbling quite ferociously. But as dangerous as this place was for a pony, it was nothing compared to the creatures that dwelled within. And soon enough, Lightning caught sight of them nearby.
Massive reptiles of all colours, shapes and sizes, sporting massive wings and possessing of razor-sharp claws and teeth. Lightning did not need to be told where she was right now.
"The dragon migration". She whispered.
The closest she'd ever been to a dragon was the one Sombra had enchanted into submission a while back in order to attack Ponyville. She'd never been this close to free dragons before, and certainly not in this many numbers. Even young ponies knew that only the best of them could dare to stand against dragons and live to tell the tale. And this place, the migration, was the closest thing to a capital they had, though in truth it was merely a spot they travelled to en masse every year.
Looking at Sombra, Lightning's expression of annoyance was clear.
"Teleportation. Never been my preferred way of travelling, but needs must". Sombra commented.
It was clear in Lightning's mind what her ally had in mind. He would recruit the dragons to his cause like he did with the changelings. But these were powerful creatures. What could he possibly offer them to make them want to work for him? All she knew of dragons was that they had a great love of gold and other treasures, and she knew that Sombra had no such objects in his possession right now. Before she could ask, she heard a thumping sound coming from behind them. She and Sombra turned to find a trio of very large adult dragon approach them.
The three reptiles were growling menacingly, and Lightning backed away instinctively. Sombra meanwhile, stood his ground.
"Good day to you my friends. I am Sombra, and I come to you today with a proposition."
The dragons looked at each other in confusion, though Lightning could not blame them. The only real interaction ponies and dragons had with each other was when they flew over Equestrian territory during their migration. They'd never really been approached like this before. The middle dragon eyed Sombra before lowering his head towards him. The two stared at each other for a long time before the dragon finally spoke.
"And just what does a unicorn want with us?" It asked in a deep and growling voice.
Sombra grinned before answering.
"I find myself in need of some allies for an upcoming venture. And you dragons are just the sort of help I'll be needing."
The dragon facing Sombra raised an eyebrow.
"And if we help you, what could you possibly offer us in return for such a service?"
Before answering, Sombra pointed his hoof in a westerly direction.
"Far from here is the city of Canterlot, capital of Equestria. Very soon now, that city will fall by my power. It contains the greatest collection of treasures and precious stones in all of Equestria. Help me to take it, and you and your kin may have it all."
Lightning was taken aback by that. An attack on Canterlot? She'd always suspected that this would have been one of Sombra's long-term goals. But to have him talk about it happening so soon, suddenly changed things for her. She looked at the dragon, who was clearly considering the matter carefully. Before he could answer however, there was a loud roar and all there turned their heads to see a large red dragon charging forward. Lightning recognised it immediately. it was the same dragon Sombra had taken over before.
It stopped just short of the unicorn before growling fiercely at him.
"YOU!!!" he shouted.
Sombra though, merely looked at the creature with no concern in his eyes.
"Ah, still around I see." He said calmly.
The red dragon growled again before the other one walked over to him.
"What is it?" He asked.
The red dragon looked at the other one and pointed his claw at Sombra. Lightning knew in her gut that this was not going to end well.
"This is the one! The unicorn I told you about! He took me. Changed me. Clouded my thoughts, my sight. I did not know what I was doing. He used some twisted power on me, controlled me!"
This lead to an immediate reaction from the other dragons. Suddenly, Sombra and Lightning found themselves surrounded by dozens of them, all looking down on them with eyes filled with anger and hatred. Lightning had never been more scared in her life. But Sombra merely stood there, unconcerned with all of it. He seemed to be studying the group as more and more dragons began to surround them. The first dragon spoke up again.
"You enslaved one of our kind! Do you take us for fools Sombra! You came here for our aid, but you will be lucky to leave with your LIFE!!!"
The statement earned a number of roars from the surrounding dragons, all of whom voiced their agreement to that sentiment. Lightning readied her wings, ready to fly away at top speed at a moment's notice. She didn't know if she'd survive so many dragons, but if she could just get away, her sheer speed could enable her to get to safety. Sombra, as though sensing her thoughts on that matter, raised his hoof to stop her. He then spoke to the group.
"Oh, I will leave with far more than that. I enslaved only one of you before because that was all I could do. Now though.....things are very different."
The red dragon snarled angrily.
"Enough talk! You will perish here uni......"
But he stopped talking mid-sentence. Lightning looked up at him to see what had stopped him, only to see that the dragon was practically frozen in place, his eyes glowing red. Suddenly, a thought came to Lightning as she turned to face Sombra. Sure enough, his own eyes were glowing bright red, along with his horn. It was as she thought, he was using his power to control the beast once more. Her attention was diverted to the other dragons, who were now baring their teeth aggressively.
But before nay of them could act, Sombra raised his hood and, suddenly, all of them froze in place much like the red dragon. Some tried to resist, but in the end, all of their eyes began to glow red like Sombra's. The entire group, easily fifty dragons, were now remaining silent, no longer displaying the same aggressive behaviour they had shown mere moments before. Lightning could not believe what she was seeing. She'd heard the stories that the alicorn amulet could increase power a great deal. But to control the minds of the entire dragon migration? That was a power she'd never thought she could ever witness.
Sombra made a gesture with his hoof and all of the dragons began to move in unison. They furled their wings, bowed their heads and knelt on one knee around the powerful unicorn. Then, at Sombra's command, they all spoke at once.
"How might we serve my king?"
Lightning, still aghast over all this, stared at the dragons. These creatures were known far and wide as being perhaps the most powerful magical creatures known to ponykind. To have them subjugated like this was unheard of. Turning, Lightning looked at Sombra, fearful of what would happen now that he had such a mighty force at his command. Sombra though, looked at all of the dragons surrounding him in-turn before smiling. He then looked off into the sky towards the west and spoke, not caring if Lightning could hear.
"Well mother......your move."