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Famous Last Words · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
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In the cold and ashen darkness of his gloomy citadel, the last Crystal Emperor brooded, dreaming of warmer days gone by.

Even in the heart of the Crystal Castle, Fiocco, called Snow King, could hear the savage baying of the windigos as they ran roughshod through the streets of his once-proud capital. Since time immemorial, the Empire had been Equestria's first line of defense from the winter-demons of the North, an unbreachable wall of love and unity against their hate. The thought of that barrier ever falling would have been an unthinkable one not five years ago.

But, fall it had, and on Fiocco's watch. The emperor knew the fault was his own, but he also knew that behind each crippling decision there lay the poisoned words of that same stallion who now stood at the foot of his throne.

"Your home is a fascinating one, Your Majesty," said the charcoal-black unicorn, glancing about, his mendicant's robes shifting in the room's icy drafts. "The more you despair, the more this place changes around us. The chandeliers have vanished, the linen-cupboards are gone, and with each new piece of bad news, another pit opens in the floor. I don't mind telling you that some of them have grown quite deep. Your anguish must be growing?"

Fiocco squeezed his eyes shut, tears turning to frost at the corners of his eyes. "I was a fool to ever accept your counsel."

"Yes," said Sombra. "Also young. Too young to take the throne, certainly. First stallion in an otherwise-unbroken line of mares stretching back to the first queen. A disappointment since birth. Clearly unfit to rule."

Fiocco stormed down from his blackened throne toward his onetime friend and advisor, stamping and snorting and trying in vain to draw himself up to Sombra's considerable height.

"I was afraid my ponies would not accept me," he said. "You were the one who told me I was right to fear. On your advice, I encouraged my subjects to spy on one another, to bring me any evidence of sedition they found in their neighbors. You led me to break apart my own country."

"Yes," said Sombra, nodding.

Fiocco bristled. "I will undo what you have done," he spat. "My fear was the only power you ever had over me."

"That fear still remains."

"Look around us!" Fiocco shouted, gesturing madly with one hoof. "You can no longer frighten me with visions of what might be! I have reached the limit of my despair! I cannot fall further than I already have!"

"What of your lovely pegasus bride? And her little pink whelp?"

The Emperor's lips were a hard line. "She is no 'whelp.' She is named Mi Amore and she is the heir apparent to my family's line, the one who will restore glory to this house. You cannot frighten me by threatening my foal, Sombra. I've sent her where you cannot touch her."

Sombra's hooves clicked against crystal as he began a lazy, shark-like circle around the emperor. "Boy," he said, "I would never threaten your foal or your queen. Do you know why?"

Fiocco's eyes were white-rimmed and wide. He said nothing.

"It was on my bed the foal was conceived," whispered Sombra, leaning in close. "The foal is mine."

The Crystal Castle gave a great groan, as of cracking ice. The noise came from very nearby, but to Fiocco's ears it sounded distant, thousands of miles away.

A hoof brushed against Fiocco's chest, light and feather-like; but in the emperor's state of shock, it fell as a profound blow. He stumbled backward from Sombra's touch. Even so, on normal ground he would have quickly recovered his footing. But the floor of the throne room was no longer normal ground.

With a brief rush of vertigo, Fiocco felt himself tumbling backward into darkness, into a newly-opened pit of his own despair, and in that moment the last Crystal Emperor found that he could indeed fall further than he already had.

Eventually, he thought as he fell, I will reach a point where it cannot become worse. Eventually I will reach the limit of my despair.

And he did. After a fall that seemed to last a lifetime, the emperor eventually found a measure of peace, and in response, his crystalline home closed the pit beneath him.

Fiocco the Snow King reached the limit of his despair at speed, struck hard, and knew no more.
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