• Published 20th Jul 2012
  • 16,126 Views, 1,430 Comments

The Conquering of Love - Littlecolt

Twilight finds she and her friends are trapped in their own minds and must escape.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
Overgrowth Ch 2 - Loyalty and Kindness

Book Two: Overgrowth

Chapter Two - Loyalty and Kindness

Twilight and Celestia were escorted into a dingy building. The interior was cramped and consisted only of a small lobby and a single short hall lined with several barred cells. The two of them were placed into the first cell on the left. The guards pushed the sliding cell door shut and shook it a bit to make sure it was secure. The two guards then left as quickly as they had entered, slamming the front door behind them.

“I guess they have more to worry about than us, with the forest attacking and all,” said Twilight as she sat down on the floor. She looked around the cell, and felt the presence of a simple containment spell. Off to the side, she could hear someone in the next cell over snoring through the wall.

I guess that spell is why they aren’t worried about having a guard in here, thought Twilight. Feels like my own magic, too. Still, I can break it if we need to escape quickly.

Celestia sat quietly, her head pointed downward slightly, and closed her eyes in concentration. Twilight blinked curiously as Pinkie’s voice came over her communicator.

“Hey, what’s going on in there?” Pinkie asked. Twilight slapped her hoof over her ear.

“We need to keep quiet for a bit,” Twilight whispered. “We’re locked up in a jail cell in this dream. Don’t worry, we can get out whenever we want, but we have to find out what’s happening first.”

A whisper came back over the communicator. “Okay, well just tap that earpiece if you need me. I’ll be cookin’ up something on this end that I think you’ll like,” Pinkie said, and then there was a small click.

After a moment, Celestia opened her eyes and shook her head. “I’ve been trying to sense the host, but I am not certain I’m able to,” she said in a hushed tone. “In your dream, I was able to sense a sort of unique energy around you, but that may just be because I am so familiar with you to begin with.”

“Well, we headed straight towards that giant pulse of energy,” whispered Twilight with a shrug. “We know it was Rainbow Dash’s energy, but according to Dream-Twilight’s message, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy set off for Cloudsdale.”

Twilight walked over to the barred window at the back of their cell. Through it, all she could see was the short distance between the jailhouse and a courtyard wall. “I wonder if Rainbow Dash is all right,” Twilight said with a shake of her head. “I mean, this world seems really dangerous. Hopefully she’s not... you know...”

“I don’t know if these dreams work the same as normal dreams,” said Celestia. “Normally, if a dream is bad enough, you’d wake up. However, since we were all forced to sleep, things could be different.”

Twilight nodded. “That makes sense, I guess,” she said. “Well I hope things aren’t going terribly for her. Still, it would be nice if she was actually here. I wonder if those two made it to Cloudsdale.”

The sun beat down hard on Unicorn Range, the mass of flat rangeland situated to the west of Canterlot. The flats were dry, the fields filled with crunchy, shriveled vegetation. A massive shadow swept across the plain as a dragon swooped overhead and towards the mountains that lined the range’s southern border. Below those mountains was a strip of forest and other foliage. The forest was dotted with patches of brown amongst the green canopy. Along the forest’s edge, a rainbow streak shot westward.

Rainbow Dash flew low to the ground along the foliage. She carried a bag in her mouth, loaded with various berries and other small fruits. She approached a tiny opening in the side of a tree and landed, crawling inside. It was a tight fit, barely large enough for her to squeeze through.

Inside the hollow, dead tree was Fluttershy, her left wing spread out and held stiff with a splint made from a stick and some vines. She was laying on a bed of cloud that Rainbow Dash had pulled into the tree. She’d been asleep, but stirred slightly as Rainbow entered. Rainbow Dash walked to the makeshift bed and set the bag down. Fluttershy opened her eyes and smiled.

“Here’s what I could manage to scrounge up,” said Rainbow as she took a seat beside the wounded pegasus. “Not too bad, don’t ya think?”

Fluttershy nodded and sat up, taking a small green apple in hoof and biting into it.

“Those dragons are still circling around out there,” said Rainbow Dash, glancing towards the opening in the tree. “They seem to be going back and forth between the mountains and Cloudsdale, still.”

“I wish they would just go away,” said Fluttershy quietly with a whimper. “Not that I could fly anywhere right now.”

Rainbow Dash frowned and looked at Fluttershy’s wing. It was missing some of its plumage and had been broken in two places during their first run-in with the dragons two weeks ago. It was taking a long time to heal without a unicorn doctor to help speed the healing process along. Furthermore, Rainbow Dash had no experience in helping injured ponies. She had to rely on Fluttershy’s knowledge from caring for injured animals to guide her.

“Do you think we could try to take the splint off today?” asked Rainbow, trying to be helpful in some way, and also anxious to return to their quest to reach Cloudsdale.

“Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt,” said Fluttershy, nodding her head. “At least... I hope it won’t. Just be careful and try to bend it slowly at the joints, like I said before.”

Rainbow Dash nodded and climbed onto the bed, positioning herself behind Fluttershy. She gently untied the vines with her teeth and caught the stick as it fell loose. Placing one hoof on Fluttershy’s back and the other just slightly up her wing, she pushed the wing slowly upward. Fluttershy cringed a bit and Rainbow stopped moving the wing immediately.

“Does that hurt?” asked Rainbow, trying to hold perfectly still. This kind of work was definitely not suited to her. She was used to much more extreme, fast movements, so this sort of slow precision was really nerve-wracking for her.

“Yes,” replied Fluttershy, “but keep going. It’s not unbearable. Probably just muscle ache from not being used for so long.”

Rainbow nodded and continued to slowly move the wing upward, then outward until it was pointed back fully. Fluttershy bit down against a walnut and tightly closed her eyes as Rainbow proceeded to move the second joint around. There was no sharp pain, just the mild aching of atrophy.

“Let go for a moment, Rainbow,” said Fluttershy, her voice breaking a bit. “I’m... going to try and move it, but be ready to hold it steady if something happens.”

“Something? What’s that mean?” asked Rainbow, releasing her grip.

“Well... I don’t know,” said Fluttershy. “I’ve never treated a broken pegasus wing before. I’ve only helped birds. It should be similar enough, so here goes...”

Fluttershy began to move her wing around, bending each joint and flapping lightly. She closed her eyes and made a nervous squeak, then slowly folded the wing inward. As it folded completely, she let out a sigh of relief.

“So... that feel okay?” asked Rainbow nervously.

“Yes,” said Fluttershy. “I never thought I’d miss having my wing folded so much.” She laughed and picked up two berries, handing one back to Rainbow and popping the other one into her mouth.

Rainbow chewed on the sweet purple berry and leaned back against the wall. “So how long until you can fly again, do you think?” she asked.

“Hard to say,” said Fluttershy. “It’s still very achy, and my back muscles are really sore, too. It could be as long as another week.” She lowered her head and sighed with disappointment. She knew that Rainbow Dash was anxious to go, but wouldn’t leave her to fend for herself.

I could probably gather my own food now that my wing isn’t bound, Fluttershy thought, but it would be so lonely.

“Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait it out,” said Rainbow, leaning forward and grabbing another berry in her mouth. Fluttershy looked down at Rainbow as she leaned forward. Her normally bright, beautiful mane was dull with dirt from her daily excursions to find food while avoiding being seen by the dragons. Fluttershy felt a tear coming to her eye, but she fought it back and sighed.

I’ll suggest to her that she should go on without me tomorrow morning, thought Fluttershy. I just want to spend one more night with her.

The two sat quietly for a moment, chewing on their meager rations. Fluttershy finally broke the silence. “Rainbow Dash,” she said quietly.

“Yeah?” said Rainbow after swallowing a piece of walnut.

“I don’t suppose you’d mind...” she started, but then bit her lip, and didn’t finish.

“Mind what?” asked Rainbow Dash, leaning forward.

Fluttershy sighed. I’m so selfish... she thought to herself.

“It’s just... now that my wing is folded in, my back is completely cramped up. It hurts...” Fluttershy said. “Would you massage it for me?” She was telling the truth, her back was intensely stiff, and pulses of dull pain were shooting into her shoulder. All the same, she was embarrassed to ask for a massage.

Rainbow Dash shrugged. “Well, lie down and I’ll try,” she said, “but I’ve never done anything like this before.”

I’m so sorry, Fluttershy thought to herself as she laid down along the bed of cloud and felt Rainbow’s front hooves press against her back. I’m sorry that I’m so selfish.

As Fluttershy felt Rainbow pressing her hooves gently along the her stiff muscles, she nervously tried to make conversation. “So, do you think the sun will go down tonight?” she asked.

Rainbow Dash shrugged. “It hasn’t gone down in over a week now, so I don’t see why it would,” she said, running the edge of her left hoof down Fluttershy’s spine. “Am I doing this right? You’ll tell me if I’m not, right?”

Fluttershy chuckled lightly. “Don’t worry, it feels good,” she said. “I can feel the tension leaving already.” Any contact at all felt good after so many hours of being cooped up in this small space, though. Fluttershy was sure she couldn’t feel more relaxed than this. The sun had stopped moving, the Everfree Forest had taken over most of her home, dragons had swarmed north towards Cloudsdale and Canterlot, and she had broken her wing. All things considered, it would be hard for the last month to be any worse for her. Yet, in this moment, lying on a cloud with her best friend’s hooves rubbing her back, she was happy, even if only for a moment.

After a few minutes, Rainbow Dash noticed Fluttershy’s breathing had changed to deeper and longer breaths. She smiled and laid down on her back next to the yellow pegasus. She lifted her front hooves into the air and looked at them.

“Guess I can do that kind of thing, too, if I try,” she said to herself quietly. She tilted her head to the side and looked at Fluttershy’s sleeping face. She whispered, “Don’t worry, Fluttershy. I won’t leave until we can leave together.” Then Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep as well.

Rainbow Dash slowly opened her eyes as she awoke. She immediately noticed that Fluttershy was missing. She jolted up out of bed and looked around in a clumsy, half-asleep panic.

Oh no! Where’d she go? Rainbow thought. She leapt from bed and ran towards the opening in the tree trunk, poking her head out. Fluttershy was nowhere to be seen.

She pushed through the small opening and ran out to where there was enough clearance in the canopy to see if any dragons were circling overhead. Once she was certain it was safe, she called out as loud as she could.“Fluttershy! Fluttershy!” Rainbow yelled, starting a gallop back towards the dead tree. “Fluttershy! Where are you?”

She bolted through brush and tree limbs all around their shelter and spotted a fresh set of hoofprints. She ran along beside them, toward the mountains and into the forest situated behind the tree. She eventually came upon a thick patch of hanging vines and pushed through them into a clearing where a sizeable lake sat at the base of a sharp drop from the mountains above. A waterfall poured into the body of water toward the back. Rainbow breathed a sigh of relief as she found Fluttershy bathing in the water with a veritable menagerie of squirrels, birds, and other creatures gathered on the bank nearest to her.

Fluttershy looked up and smiled at Rainbow Dash. She began to walk towards her and extended her wings fully, shaking droplets of water from them as she went.

“Rainbow Dash, I’m glad you found us!” said Fluttershy in a happy tone. “The animals told me about this wonderful clean lake. The water runs down from the snow melting up in the mountains and feels just wonderful.”

Rainbow Dash stared at Fluttershy, not sure how to respond. She wanted to yell at her for leaving without telling her, for making her worry so much, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it when Fluttershy looked so happy. She decided to try and act cool about the situation, instead.

“Oh yeah!” said Rainbow Dash. “Yeah, I totally found this place a couple days ago. Pretty nice, huh?” She nervously put a hoof behind her head and laughed.

Fluttershy, who had now reached the bank where Rainbow was standing, reached her hoof out and touched it to Rainbow’s mane, which was still very dirty and faded.

“Well why didn’t you clean yourself up, then?” she asked, grinning, and then motioned into the water. “Come on, you should get in and get all clean. After that, we can eat the food I gathered this morning.” She then pointed to a bag sitting on a far bank. It was full of many different kinds of fruit and nuts, which were spilling over onto the ground.

Rainbow’s mouth watered a bit and her stomach growled. Fluttershy laughed and pulled Rainbow into the water. She didn’t resist, and fell forward into the clear pool, letting its cool water completely soak her mane and body. Her scalp and skin had been so itchy the past week, she’d had to come up with mental techniques to ignore it. Almost as if it was magic, the itching and pain stopped as the water enveloped her.

This... is... amazing! Rainbow Dash thought to herself, grinning from ear to ear. Funny how something simple like this can feel so great after so long.

Rainbow Dash pushed up out of the water and hugged Fluttershy tightly, just trapped in the moment and how great she suddenly felt.

“Sorry, Fluttershy,” said Rainbow Dash, remembering how mad she had been just a minute earlier.

Fluttershy blinked with confusion, but hugged her friend back. “What for?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head and smiled. “Nevermind. Let’s eat, I’m starving!”

The two of them headed over to the bank where the bag of food was and sat leaning against a rocky edge of the lake, soaking and eating as they talked.

“I’m impressed, though, Fluttershy!” said Rainbow Dash. “I genuinely am! How did you find this place and gather so much food?”

Fluttershy laughed. “Did you forget what my special talent is, already?” she asked. “I didn’t do it all by myself. I had a lot of help from my friends here, didn’t I?” she said, glancing over at a squirrel who was curled up in the shade of a small bush.

“Oh yeah! That makes sense!” said Rainbow Dash, a bit embarrassed. “Duh! How could I have forgotten that?”

Guess I just got used to her being so helpless that I didn’t think about her strengths, Rainbow thought to herself, a bit ashamed. And this after I felt like such a great friend last night.

Fluttershy smiled and nodded her head. “See? I can help, too, now that I can move around freely,” she said, and then leaned her head downward, trying to psych herself up for what she had to say. “Rainbow Dash... I can take care of myself here, so you should really get going to--”

“No way!” said Rainbow Dash, cutting Fluttershy off mid-sentence. “I can’t leave you here alone, even if you can gather food for yourself. What if those dragons find you?”

“What if they find me when you’re here?” asked Fluttershy, raising her voice a bit and turning her head to look at Rainbow Dash. Her eyes were unwavering and had determination burning in their depths. “Can you really fight a dragon? Wouldn’t we just both be running for our lives or eaten?”

“But I...” said Rainbow Dash, unable to even come up with an argument against that. “You’re just... You’re so scared of dragons, so I just--”

“Don’t!” said Fluttershy, this time cutting Rainbow Dash off. “Don’t treat me like I’m helpless. Yes, I’m scared of dragons, but I’m more scared of losing all our friends! We have to find out what’s happened in Cloudsdale and Canterlot as fast as possible, and bring help back to Ponyville!”

Rainbow Dash sighed and lowered her head. She’s right, of course. Darn it... she thought to herself, gritting her teeth. I can’t wait. I have to get to Cloudsdale, and then we have to get back to Ponyville. We’ve wasted enough time in these stupid foothills!

Rainbow Dash looked up and into Fluttershy’s eyes. She nodded her head. “Okay. You’re right,” she said. “After we finish up here, we’ll go back to the tree and then I’ll take off for Cloudsdale.”

Fluttershy smiled and patted Rainbow Dash on the head. “That’s more like the brave and determined pony I know,” she said.

Rainbow Dash blushed and pushed Fluttershy’s hoof aside. “Oh come on, now, that’s enough,” she said with a laugh. They ate food until they were satisfied, then gathered the rest up and headed back towards the tree.

Once they arrived, they stood silently in front of the entrance for a few seconds, looking at each other. Finally, Fluttershy lifted the saddle bag up and strapped it onto Rainbow Dash’s waist.

“Take the rest of the food with you. My animal friends are already out there gathering more for me, so it won’t be a problem,” she said, smiling.

Rainbow Dash nodded. “I know you’ll be fine. I’ll be back to get you before you know it,” she said, and started to turn away. Fluttershy reached out and grabbed Rainbow by the shoulder. She pulled her close and hugged her tightly.

“Be careful,” Fluttershy said, her voice filled with hope and sadness.

Rainbow Dash hugged her back. “Don’t worry, those dragons won’t even be able to keep up with me!” she said with confidence. Rainbow Dash then took off into the sky and was out of sight before Fluttershy could blink twice.

“I know. That’s your special talent. Well, one of them, anyway,” said Fluttershy to herself with a bittersweet smile. She turned around and retreated back into the tree to take shelter from the heat of the sun.

Rainbow Dash glanced back towards the mountains. They shrank away as her distance from Fluttershy grew. “Don’t worry, Fluttershy,” said Rainbow. “I’ll be back real soon!”

As Rainbow Dash was about to pull her head forward again, she saw a fireball erupt from the forest below the mountains, and heard an explosion a few seconds later. She came to a screeching halt and stared blankly towards the now blazing forest where she had been only a moment earlier.

“Fluttershy...” she said to herself, her eyes wide and shaking with shock. “Fluttershy!”

Rainbow Dash blasted back towards the mountains, heading straight towards the heart of the inferno.

PreviousChapters Next