The Battle of Baltimare.
Even before it began, everypony with enough intelligence knew it would be one of the most heavily recorded events in future history books covering this war. If the army of Daybreaker could take it, they regained access to the Celestial Sea, but if Nightmare Moon's forces held strong, they could keep their solar enemies from flanking them. To say nothing of the supplies that could come and go from the port or the access to potential allies.
Defending the city was General Starless with five thousand Lunar soldiers and a small fleet composed of five warships. The city was well fortified while the river and sea were their own form of defense as well.
Invading was Admiral Smoke with an army of four thousand Solar soldiers and two warships, along with three thousand militia and eight trading ships rearmed for war.
The battle started unconventionally and secretly. Hundreds of militia and the false trade shipping had snuck in as refugees and merchants. At first light, they attacked, catching their lunar enemies off guard. With the defenses bypassed and compromised, the soldiers of the Nightmare had no choice to engage in a grudge battle, trying to put down the infiltrators even as the main enemy army flew and charged upon the river to attack the city walls.
And all the while, an unlikely pair watched from upon the hill as the battle unfolded. "The Sisters aren't coming," Sombra stated knowingly.
"This is just north of Anarchy's borders," Discord retorted, legs crossed upon his horned throne. "I suppose my warning worked too well."
"How do you want to handle this?" Sombra asked, his stoicism hiding his eagerness to join the fight.
"I'll take the north and the sea. I'll leave this mess in your capable hooves, Flippers," Discord answered with a grim hum.
Sombra snorted as the Master of Chaos vanished like mist in the wind. He turned about to lay his eyes upon what was just beyond the hill, laying in wait: the Five Legions of Anarchy, and their captains. Most were lucky to retain most of their original shape and form. Truly, it was a monstrous, disfigured horde. Perfect for striking fear into equally fearsome enemies.
Let it never be said that Discord the Draconequus was stupid.
"Your orders, Commander Sombra?"
Sombra smirked. It wasn't quite the same as being called king, but it had a good ring to it.
"Greld," he addressed to the griffon with wings made of glass shards and eyes that oozed an unending stream of orange sand, with a long and snake-like tongue to finish it off. "Take the Troglodyte Legion and bleed the air out of both forces. Hit and run them until they don't know friend from foe."
The thief gave a war screech with a crooked smile upon his beak. "With pleasure, Slave King."
Sombra ignored his old title as he looked upon a pony that was now a mockery of an Alicorn: butterfly wings in the shape of bat wings, bull horns made of timberwood, and cinder blocks for hooves. "Pound Stalk. Take the Donnybrooks across the river and do what you do," he ordered ominously.
The once-pony only grunted in acknowledgement, stamping his concrete hoof once with a thud.
Sombra shook his head at the talented brute before moving on to what had once been a Kirin, but now seemed to be some vaguely draconic-equine made entirely of small leaves, with yellow peppers for eyes. "Blessed Fruit, set up the Bumbershoots behind Stalk's legion. Tend to and protect our wounded. Put down any of theirs that gives you too much trouble."
The mare, or he believed Fruit had been a mare, nodded in understanding. "Lord Discord has instructed me briefly yet thoroughly on how to suppress the madness in the Flare Ponies," They answered, with an echoing voice of both sexes.
Sombra nodded back in acknowledgement before looking at- himself. "Dewlap," he scolded briefly, his likeness replaced by a solid black mass in the shape of a diamond dog, with pure white eye holes and a mouth as the only descriptive details. "Take the Codswallops down the river and find a way inside or onto the walls. Once you do, I leave it to your discretion to inflict the most damage with the least effort."
The smile was likely more intimidating than the dog intended it to be. "I have some ideas," he said with a devious snicker.
"And finally," Sombra grinned as he craned his head to look up at one of the only unchanged member of their group. A hulking bipedal with horns, cloven hooves, and one great eye. "Arimaspi, take the Cattywampus Legion to...tend to the Solar Army. I'm sure Lord Discord will be most pleased if you do."
"What about you, Commander?" Dewlap asked with a suspicious stare.
Sombra chuckled unnervingly. "I'm not sure. Depends on where this Admiral Smoke and General Starless both are, and who I can find first," he answered whimsically before frowning. "Oh, and before I forget?"
All five legion captains jumped or stepped back as a great, black scythe appeared from the shadows and impaled itself on the ground in front of Sombra. "Anyone thinking to pull some stunt and become a deserter answers to me, and then Discord. Do we have an understanding?" he addressed the entire army, his voice carried by their very shadows. They all remained silent until Sombra glared, "Do We Have An Understanding?!"
"Yes, Commander/Sir/Sombra!" the cries of affirmative, from fear or determination, met his ears.
"Good, now let us begin," Sombra ordered as he vanished into smoke and shadows.
Silence reigned for only an instant before the cyclops let out a great war cry, charging off with his soldiers chasing at his back. Greld snickered as Dewlap shook his head. "Keep an eye out for us," the silhouette-dog requested to the glass-griffon, before treading off to the east with his own share of underlings.
"Fruit, may we never have to meet before this is over," Greld nodded cheekily to the mass of leaves before taking flight with the only purely airborne legion.
Pound Stalk and Blessed Fruit shared a silent look before beginning their march.
Sombra watched keenly from the shadows as the plans started to unfold. Discord would do his part. How was the only question, with endless unimaginable answers. Now it just depended on how well this band of thieves and misfits managed to work together, even if just as a loosely organized horde.
The smoke of battle and from Daybreaker's army in general gave the Umbra plenty of cover with which to move about in with his shadow powers. True, making a grand and terrifying entrance was appealing, but he needed to confirm a few things for himself.
Lowering himself down a trail of smoke, avoiding the various pegasi with ease, the dethroned King of the Crystal Empire found himself watching as the solar army attempted to besiege the walls, at least the height of five ponies. The lunar defenders outside the wall had long since retreated inwards or been dealt with. The minions of the burning queen tried to assail the walls with siege ladders, their pegasi overhead trying to aid in securing a foothold.
The lunar ponies were valiantly attempting to throw them back: pushing off ladders, chucking spears, letting loose flurries of arrows. Yet the intruding forces amongst them were obviously keeping their efforts from becoming unified. At the sky was the only place Sombra could see where both sides were truly even, the lunar pegasi and batponies taking just as many runs at the solar army as their counterparts did of their ground allies.
It was the recipe for a long and grueling bloodbath between both sides. Without some sort of miracle, it would be a pyrrhic victory regardless of the winner.
If these were the only two armies involved, that is.
Still, Sombra scowled to himself as he studied the soldiers of the pony that once called herself Celestia. There were more than a few hundred that were like the ones he had seen with Daybreaker: fire-empowered and in varying degrees of animalistic wrath. However, a majority of the army was just ordinary soldiers. Loyal, but many were certainly confused and scared.
What had the sun-wench done to these ponies? His magic subdued a victim's will, it didn't warp them halfway into being a beast.
Saving such questions for later, he watched carefully for anything unique among the invading army. Something that would give the general away without being too obvious. A different design to the helmet, an extra coloring...something.
He felt his ire grow as he saw a hoofful of pegasi flying low to the ground, to and from a small forest to the west. Smoke was truly a coward, not even willing to be close to the battle. His mind flashed with the image of a snarling, demented Daybreaker and wondered if killing him here wasn't too kind of a fate instead of facing his burning queen in defeat.
The sound of a battle cry and stampeding limbs brought his attention to the south, seeing Arimaspi charging across the river with his Cattywampi while Greld's Troglodytes swarmed forth like a flock from Tartarus.
Feeling his choice was made for him, Sombra vanished from the field
Admiral Smoke was enjoying the scene playing out before him, his armies clashing with the Lunar defense. Meanwhile, he sat from the forest in protective observation. He was not a warrior, his portly unicorn form giving that away with ease, but his mind was fine tuned for strategy. His plan was perfect in theory, seeking to cripple their foe's naval defenses while using the infiltrators to cause havoc so that the main army might advance unmolested, and bleed the Lunar forces. Ideally, they would get a foothold, but even if his forces had to retreat, the defenses of Baltimare would be crippled and depleted enough that at least one weak point should reveal itself.
The Burning Ponies, or Pyronies as some called them, certainly gave an advantage, each being worth at least three of their enemy's soldiers.
Yes, it was much better from him to command and direct from the flanks.
"Admiral! A new force has appeared, from the south!" a pegasus member of his personal guard informed urgently as he landed quickly.
"Whatever are you talking about, soldier?" the beige coated stallion asked with a scowl as he walked southward, gazing passed the trees. There was indeed a large force charging to the battle, both from the land and the sky. Too far to make out distinctive forms, but they didn't appear to be ponies. "Impossible, we couldn't have missed that many enemy soldiers and there's nothing to the south!"
"Except-" the head of his guard started, freezing as a troubled thought came over him. "Could the Draconequus have decided to join the war?"
Smoke paled at that thought. "Discord? Here?" he muttered in dread. "If it is so, this battle may be lost, and the queen will have to know."
"Trust me, she is aware."
Smoke and his two guards turned around in shock, just in time to see a dark unicorn materialize with a red horn, his great scythe swinging to slay the only three other soldiers at once. "King Sombra?" Smoke recognized, his mouth running dry.
"I see my visage is still known and feared. Tell me, Admiral, how long have I been imprisoned?" Sombra asked with an almost coy smile.
"You were...you were defeated twenty years ago!" the pegasus exclaimed in shock. "How are you even here?"
"Hm? Did the Alicorns leave my fate unknown?" Sombra asked with some genuineness. "Still, twenty years imprisoned in Anarchy..." He mused.
"Anarchy. So, the Lord of Chaos is behind this," Smoke realized, forcing a small smirk. "I never expected you the type to serve, King of Slaves."
The admiral fell silent, sweating profusely as he found the blade of the scythe pressed against his throat.
"Was that supposed to rile me?" Sombra inquired with an unamused tone, his fanged mouth giving a yawn of boredom as he removed his weapon from the solar officer. "Well, I believe I have wasted enough time with a coward like you. Dispose of him, gentlestallions."
Smoke scrunched his brow, only to grow horrified, turning as his pegasi guard leapt at him with sword in hoof, his guard captain barreling at him to keep him from fleeing. Both of their eyes solid green.
Sombra chuckled at that as he turned his attention back to the battle at hoof, the screams of the cowardly admiral serving as lovely ambient music to his dark heart. The cyclopes and his Cattywampi were tearing into the Solar invaders, the most monstrously formed overwhelming them with shock and might. Above, Greld's Troglodytes weaved in about the sky-battle, taking combatants by surprise before diving out. Lunar and Solar soldiers fell like sprinkles of rain. Dewlap was no where to be seen, so the Codswallops were probably on task. And the Donnybrooks had set up a defensive line that both kept the ponies from fleeing west and also protected the healing and supporting legion of Bumbershoots. Blessed Fruit's legion healed the injured, friendly or otherwise, while hurling and otherwise supplying poisonous and magical bombs.
It was rough around the edges, but everyone was playing their parts. He chuckled as he watch Pound Stalk march back and forth behind the protective line, waiting for an enemy to try and break through. Unlike Smoke, he wasn't hiding. He was waiting. Waiting for a foe that could compromise the line, to order them to break and let some enemies through, allowing him and the other heavy hitters of Donnybrooks to put them down. That was what he did, stalking and pounding.
Sombra allowed his scowl to return as he saw the fight for the wall become more desperate between the forces of Nightmare Moon and Daybreaker. The Solar forces were now trying even more urgently, not only to defeat their Lunar foes but also to escape the monsters coming for them. Without a leader, the army of the sun would destroy itself or break apart to flee, allowing the lunar ponies to refortify their position.
"I suppose it's time to cut the head off the other snake," he mused, turning his attention to the mind controlled soldiers. Or rather, soldier. More pegasi messengers had returned while he watched the battle, but he paid them no mind as the two thralls dealt with them, the captain falling victim to a one taking a dying, desperate bite out of his neck; that just left the pegasus. "Listen to me, foal," Sombra ordered, knowing that his victim was fully aware beneath the dark magic controlling him. "You will stay here, you will watch this battle, and when I set you free, you will flee to tell your Sun-Wench what has happened here. And tell her that "My Master Is Coming For You."
Sombra laughed maliciously as he sensed the pegasus shake beneath the mental bonds. While he didn't particularly love the idea of his image being repainted as Discord's lapdog, he'd live with it if it fostered fear in their enemies. Besides, if his pride could survive being a LITERAL lapdog for a month, it could survive this.
Besides, regardless of who was really in charge, this was turning into a promising partnership.
With that done, he turned into a shade once more, soaring through the battlefield. He weaved passed a scorpion-bull being pinned down by many ponies from both sides, dodged an eight legged stallion with mouths for hooves as he devoured an lunar archer, and flew over a mist of laughing-vomit gas.
He could have done more. He thought he probably should. But Discord had made it clear he wanted this battle to belong to the legions more than either of them. He wanted to bloody their various limbs. Sombra supposed that made sense, having to keep reminding himself that an army without mind control was a lot different than one made entirely with mind control.
Besides, if he trust Discord to do nothing else, it was to win.
Refocusing himself, he flew up the wall and materialized in mid-jump, descending upon the soldiers of the sun and moon, cleaving limbs and heads with a flurry of blood. One unicorn turned to rush him with a horn bright with an offensive spell, only for the horn to be cut off with a single cleave, the staff of the scythe sending the pony falling off the side, down into the chaos of the battle.
He glanced down, behind the wall for anything of note, and was pleasantly impressed. There was a command center here, and unless he missed his mark, the good general was glaring up at him.
Sombra vanished into mist as an arrow soared by where his head had been and impaled another lunar warrior in the shoulder. He reappeared on the table of the command center, scythe impaling into it as almost every pony jumped back. Everypony save her: ash gray coat with midnight blue mane, the batpony glared up with yellow slit eyes full of restrained wrath. "I've come to challenge General Starless."
"And who challenges me?" she asked, holding up a hoof before the soldiers could foolishly try to engage him. "You don't appear to be one belonging to the Burnt Hag."
Sombra almost smiled at that. "Sombra, former King of the Crystal Empire, First Commander of the Legions of Anarchy."
"Anarchy?" Starless repeated, her face becoming a stone mask to hide and contain the fear within. "So they weren't kidding when they said an army of monsters. I don't suppose Almighty Discord has any interest in aiding the Queen of Stars?"
Sombra smirked. "Discord defeated the Alicorns when they were united, why would would he care to aid one of their corrupted shells against the other when he could simply take it all?" he questioned rhetorically, laughing as she glared on-
-until he blocked an arrow with a strike of shadow magic, giving a flat look to the bold and foolish archer who was quacking in her hooves.
"Enough!" Starless called before anypony else did something stupid. "What incentive could I possibly have to even attempt taking you on alone, Commander?" she asked with a scowl.
"I suppose a prize should be offered as motivation," Sombra mused thoughtfully. "Very well, General Starless. Defeat me and all survivors of the Lunar Army will be free to return to your queen in shame."
"How is that a prize?!" another pony shouted in outrage.
"Do you know nothing of Discord? None, not even I, could escape his lands without him allowing it. Do you really think any of you would fare better?" Sombra challenged to all present.
Starless held his gaze for a moment before addressing her subordinates, never looking away from the Slave King. "Quarterdeck, you're in charge now. Do everything you can to hold this wall."
"But General-!" the stallion in question protested.
"If I keep this one busy and the Chaos Lord hasn't taken the field yet, we at least have a chance against whatever army they have fighting the Solar ponies," she interrupted sharply as she stood firmly and dawned her silver helmet. "Very well, Commander Sombra. I accept your challenge."
End of the Chapter:
Okay, and here is the second chapter, fresh off the file. Hope you all enjoyed it, the opening salvo on Discord's entry for this war, which is also a test for his legions. And yes, they all have silly names. He had to have some fun with this!
It's probably pretty obvious what each Legion's roles are, but I'll clarify more after the Battle ends next chapter. And Sombra is right at home on the battlefield.
PS I have an original fic on my now called Among the Amazons, the first chapter is free.
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