I had reached the point in my Equestria dreamscape where I would finally meet face to face the nemesis that my subconscious had decided to create. The Lord of Shadows. Silently glowing in the light of the protective spell myself, Twilight and Princess Celestia stood there. With the planetarium active it was as if we were standing in space.
However beautiful the scene was all eyes were focused on the one open doorway in the room. A black chasm from which the Lord of Shadows would most likely enter. As the time drew near the silence grew almost oppressive but no one seemed to want to breach it. Twilight stood close to her mentor as if to gain strength from her presence. I myself went through a series of breathing exercises trying to clear my thoughts in preparation for the task in front of me. Still my legs were trembling. Celestia stood as still as a statue. Bathed in glowing white light her mane flowing like a pennant from a castle tower in the morning breeze. Her eyes were closed as if she was recalling every lesson, moment, and experience of her last thousand plus years. Searching for the strength, the wisdom, the faith, and the resolve to steer her through this meeting. Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she spoke. "He is coming."
Now usually when I am dreaming and can tell myself "Hey relax, its just a dream! Sit back and enjoy the show." However sometimes that is not so easy, especially when I am having a nightmare. This was not a nightmare but it was close.
Suddenly the room became icy cold and I had this feeling that the doorway and the hallway no longer connected to the palace ruins, but instead it now led to the very heart of a singularity from which no visible light ever came from or returned. Then with a deep roaring cry the Lord of Shadows rushed into the room like a black wave.
A bitterly cold wind filled the with the stench of decay poured into the room. Both Twilight and I took a step back as the horror coalesced into a giant raven towering above all of us. Celestia remained still, her eyes half closed as she faced her opponent for the first time. For several seconds silence reigned in the room then the Lord of Shadows spoke. His voice while having some of the croaking rasp of raven was still refined but was utterly lacking in warmth and compassion and was surprisingly quiet and distant. "Princess Celestia, I am pleased that you decided to meet with me." It was then that he noticed Twilight and I. "However, what are they doing here?" His voice was filled with disdain as if finding something disgusting on his dinner plate. Princess replied. "The filly is my star pupil Twilight Sparkle. I have great hopes for her and felt this meeting might be an enlightening experience for her."
The Lord growled. "These are suppose to be formally negotiations. Not some classroom lesson. She has no business being here!" Sighing Celestia looked over Twilight. "In the interest of diplomacy I am going to have ask you to leave Twilight." The unicorn filly looked up at her mentor swallowed and meekly replied. "As you wish your highness. Uh, good luck." Then in a flash she vanished. At this point I suddenly became the attention of the Lord of Shadows.
"And what is this thing doing here?" The Lord almost spat out the words. "This is that meat puppet that meddlesome little unicorn I banished created. Still sticking his muzzle into things bigger than himself." Lowering his head closer to me he filled my vision. "So how's it feel to have a decrepit, senile old fool using you as a pawn? Eh? What's the matter can't speak without his permission?"
A mixture of fear and rage burst through me, however before I could reply Celestia intervened. "His name is Baron, and since he is "my" personal consultant and adviser for this meeting. He stays or the meeting is over. He speaks only when it is required and will not unnecessarily interrupt our discussions." The Lord stared at me for several seconds before speaking again. "Feh! Whatever. So puppet you apparently have two owners? Don't let these ponies get your strings all tangled up, or they may just get bored with you and throw you away." He chuckled. "And then where will you be?" Fortunately as we had hoped he didn't even notice the door slowly sliding closed and magically sealing the room.
Taking charge of situation Celestia spoke again. "Lord of the Shadows the reason for this meeting was see if there was a way to come to some recognition of each others sovereign territories and resolve certain issues that exist between our worlds." Celestia paused for a second before continuing. "Since our two realms do not actually share any physical borders with each other although they exist side by side, Equestria is willing to acknowledge your authority in the Kingdom of Shadows and will not interfere with the daily affairs there. All things that originate in your realm are yours and Equestria makes no claims to them." Cocking her head she looked up the giant smoke raven. "In return the Kingdom of Shadows must respect Equestria's borders. laws and its subjects. Also I require that all permanent guests currently held there must be returned whole, sound and alive to Equestria. That includes the two unicorns Paynes Grey and Sunrise." She smiled sweetly. "As a good will gesture."
The Lord of Shadows stared at Celestia and said nothing. Just a slow growl emanated from him. Then he ruffled his smoke plumage and replied. "Oh Princess." His voice was full of mockery. "I would be willing to return my "guests" but I think you ponies need to gain a better understanding what the Kingdom of Shadows is and I need to better understand all of you "precious" ponies. Therefore I'll return the guests and in their place I propose that several other ponies, perhaps your sister or your star pupil, be sent to my realm study and learn our ways." The giant raven was now pacing back in forth in front of us. His back still to the sealed door. "In return several members of my court will be assigned permanently to your palace staff to observe the way "ponies" go about their business. So I can better understand them."
Celestia's stare became cold. She'd eat her own tiara before sending any pony to the realm of shadows to become political prisoners, and she sure wasn't going to allow spies from there run freely through her palace and realm. "As I stated, since our realms share no physical borders and ponies are incapable of traveling there themselves I see no need for such a exchange at this time. If you were to show good faith and return my subjects and respect this realm, then I might consider your "offer" in the future. But at this time I desire only the return of the ponies you hold in your realm against their will. If you will not return them willingly then I will take what actions I deem appropriate to secure their return." She tossed her mane. "Do I make myself clear."
The Lord of Shadows form slowly grew in size like an ascending thunderhead and his voice grew as well. "Ponies do not tell me what to do!" His voice echoed around the room. "I will not return your dear little ponies! These discussion are over! Maybe when you have better understanding of what I am capable of we can try this again!" At this point started to turn as if to leave, it was then that he noticed that the door had vanished. Slowly he turned and glared at Celestia. "What kind of game are you playing pony?"
Celestia's glow suddenly began to grow and sparks began arc across her cutie mark I knew that we were about to spring our trap. When she spoke her voice was sharp . "For a creature who is nothing more than a creation of one my subjects imagination you have a lot to learn!" She glared at the giant black monstrosity. "You are going nowhere without first returning my subjects! You will not be allowed back to your realm until you vow to never to interfere in the affairs of Equestria without my permission! Lord of the Shadows I am giving you one last chance to amend the mistakes you've made! Do you understand?!"
The shadow that was the raven began to waver and ripple as if his anger was tearing him apart. "And how do plan to stop me! He roared. "Eh! I am the shadows that your very pathetic existence creates! How can you attempt to trap our destroy something that is part of your everyday life! How! HOW!" Celestia shook her head "We already have trapped you and you know it, or else you would have left." Her mane and tail were now starting to ripple like flames and a blue cherenkov-like glow was starting to cascade off her body and roll across the floor like ground fog. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the sun symbol on her flank burst forth with a blinding white light. "To think I was willing to offer you the greatest gift in the world and you're willing to casually throw it away." "And what is that?" Scowled the Lord of Shadows. Celestia's eyes were now glowing like white coals. "The chance to live." That was my cue.
Through all this I had been trying to focus my concentration in preparation of this moment . Everything I had learned of my talent I threw into this spell. It was all or nothing. An intense electricity coursed through me as my creation flared into existence. At that moment the Lord of Shadows realized I was a real threat and lunged for me with his bill wide open. Wild black tendrils burst forth his gaping maw. Maybe he intended devour me. Maybe he wanted to throw me into his realm. It never happened. As I finished the spell Celestia reached down and grabbed my mane with her teeth and yanked me out of the way. The last things I remember clearly was the planetarium filling with roiling fire and the Lord of Shadows staring in terror at Celestia. Then there was a blinding flash.