• Published 20th Jul 2012
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The Conquering of Love - Littlecolt

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

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Overgrowth Ch 1 - A World Gone Mad

Book Two: Overgrowth

Chapter One - A World Gone Mad

Twilight Sparkle and Princess Celestia stood before the tree which housed both Golden Oaks Library and Twilight's home. Twilight pushed the door open, but then paused to look back at the princess.

“I hadn't considered this until now, but...” Twilight said, hesitating, “what if I'm inside there?”

Celestia shrugged. “I honestly don't know,” she said. “Given the state of the place, I think it's unlikely anyone is in there, though.”

Twilight sighed and pushed the door open. She stepped inside and looked around. The walls of the tree had started to grow branches inward, and the vines that were wrapped around the outside had pushed through the windows. Books and other items were scattered everywhere, but at the center of the room were neat stacks of books on and around a table, as well as a stack of paper with a rock set on top.

Twilight stepped quietly across the room towards the neatly organized work area. She recognized the organizational method instantly, since it was her own. She had done this, or rather, the Twilight of this dream world had. Twilight lifted the rock off the stack of paper, revealing written words on the top page. She read them aloud.

“‘Day forty since the Everfree Forest began to encroach on Ponyville,’” Twilight read. “Forty days? And this looks like it was written some time ago.”

“Go on,” said Celestia as she stood by Twilight's side, “continue reading. This will hopefully shed some light on what's going on, and maybe even whose dream this is.”

Twilight nodded and continued to read. “‘I fear it is safe to say that Canterlot is not going to be able to help us. We have not heard from the military since the battle in the second week, and I believe Celestia is either unable to receive the scrolls that Spike sends, or is no longer able to respond. I refuse to believe that she has abandoned us, but most of the ponies in town have given up hope or believe we have been left to die,’” she read, her voice trembling. “‘I am leaving tomorrow morning to try and reach Canterlot, as well as scout for my missing friends. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy have not been seen since they took off with a group of pegasi to try and reach Cloudsdale. I fear the worst.’”

Twilight swallowed hard as she read the last lines. “‘I will probably not make it to Canterlot, or ever be able to return home. I can't stand the thought of dying here alone without having tried, though. If you are reading this, and the forest is still advancing, then I am probably dead by now,’” she read aloud. “That's it...”

Celestia reached a hoof forward and rolled down the bottom of the page, which had become curled upward, revealing one more short paragraph.

“‘If you're reading this, and your name is Spike,’” Celestia read aloud, “‘I told you not to come here. Go back to Ponyville’s town square, Applejack will need you to be there in case the princess tries to contact them with a scroll.’”

Twilight shook her head in confusion. ‘I am probably dead by now’? she thought. I don’t understand.

“This doesn’t sound very promising,” said Celestia as she moved the top page aside to see if there was any more written on the pages underneath. “The rest of the pages are blank. We have nothing else to go on.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Twilight, who had started to pace around the room. “Aren’t these dreams supposed to be happy? How could anypony be happy about this grim situation?”

“I don’t know,” replied Celestia. She closed her eyes and began to transform into Twilight Glimmer again. “Perhaps we should head towards the center of town where Applejack and the others are supposed to be.”

“That’s fine for you, Princess, but what about me?” asked Twilight. She returned to the central table and placed her hoof on the note. “We don’t even know how long ago this world’s Twilight left. For all we know, it could have been days... or weeks ago. If I show up without any information on what happened, they might all turn into changelings again, like in my dream.”

Celestia, now fully changed into her disguise, placed a hoof to her chin in thought. “That’s a good point. Arousing suspicions in these dreams can be dangerous, as we’ve found out.”

“Right, and come to think of it, that reminds me of something I’ve been wondering,” said Twilight, taking a seat in front of Celestia. “How were you able to move around in my dream? Did that gem you were hiding in have something to do with it? Could we do something like that, whatever it was?”

“Ah, yes,” said Celestia. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that was only possible because I entered your dream while it was forming. In fact, I am not sure I could have done it in anypony else’s dream at all. Your magical energy made it possible, along with your dream’s initial haziness. I was able to spot Pinkie Pie as an anomaly and give her some power, as well as hide myself in the gem, all within the first few seconds of your dream. After that, things started progressively behaving more like reality.”

Twilight slumped forward and rested her chin on her hoof. “That is disappointing. And since this dream has been going for a while, it’s too late, I suppose.” she said with a sigh.

“Right you are,” Celestia responded. “Getting out of that gem was quite a drain on me, actually. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make it, but as soon as my horn crested, I felt a surge of energy from you, and was able to put Spike to sleep and emerge.”

“What else can we do, then?” said Twilight, flustered. She placed her hooves to the sides of her head. “Think, think!” She shook her head back and forth, and felt her right hoof tapping against something in her ear.

“What’s that?” Twilight said, and then gasped. “Pinkie Pie! Maybe Pinkie Pie from this dream can help us just like before, if we could just find her somehow!”

“Did somepony say my name?” came a voice from Twilight’s ear. Twilight jumped up and pressed her hoof against her ear.

“Pinkie?” she said with a smile.

“Yes indeedie!” said the voice. “I guess that communicator thingie really works!”

“Amazing!” said Celestia. She pressed her ear against Twilight’s to listen in.

“Pinkie, are you all right? Did everything calm down after we left?” asked Twilight.

“A little too much,” said Pinkie Pie. “The moment you went through that hole in the wall, everything just froze. Everypony is just standing around like statues now.”

“Wow, that’s kind of... creepy,” said Twilight, cocking one eyebrow upward.

“You’re telling me!” said Pinkie Pie. “I thought it was weird before, but this is a whole new level of weird! The weirdest thing is the sky, though. It’s gone completely black, no stars or moon or anything.”

“Sounds dreary,” said Twilight. “I wish there was a way to brighten it up a bit.”

“Whoa!” came Pinkie’s voice in Twilight’s ear, along with a distant crashing noise. “Twilight! Right after you said that, the sky changed back to normal! I can hear some ponies walking around and talking outside, too!”

Celestia smiled. “It makes sense that you can control the dream somewhat, Twilight,” she said. “You’re still technically dreaming in that cocoon. Only your consciousness left, so your subconscious is still at work.”

“I guess that’s the main reason Pinkie is still there,” said Twilight. “Dream control... that would have been handy while we were there.”

“Lucidity,” said Celestia. “The ability to control your dreams is a gift that everyone has to some degree, but can not always control. It usually manifests itself in small ways as you dream.”

“Well it mani... maniwhatstit-ed in a big way in here!” said Pinkie. “I just looked out the window, and everything seems to be back to normal. Well, as normal as it was before, probably.”

“Well that’s a relief, at least. Pinkie, we’re going to try to contact the Pinkie from this dream,” said Twilight. “We hope she can help us, too.”

Pinkie began to respond, but Twilight couldn’t hear what she was saying. A loud, screeching sound from outside the library came suddenly, and the ground began to shake. Books fell from shelves and a glass pane in one of the windows shattered.

“What’s going on?” yelled Twilight. She ran towards the window to look outside.

“Twilight, wait!” shouted Celestia, and ran after her. “Look at the window above!” She tackled Twilight and pointed her head upwards. The upper window near Twilight’s bedroom was completely broken to bits, and there was a mass of writhing tentacle-like vines advancing inward.

“Is this what this dream’s Twilight meant about the Everfree Forest encroaching?” shouted Twilight as she regained her footing and backed away from the window.

“I imagine so, but we need to get out of here now!” said Celestia, pushing Twilight towards the door. The two ran towards it as fast as they could, and Celestia shot a beam of magic at it. The door blew to pieces along with a large portion of the wall. The ponies leapt through the hole and were met quickly with the field of tall grass they had landed in before. It was growing right before their eyes, each blade becoming taller and thicker.

“We’ll have to blast through!” yelled Celestia, her horn glowing with white magic. Twilight nodded her head and concentrated her power into her horn as well. They let off simultaneous blasts of purple and white, the magic cutting through the grass like a knife through a wet piece of paper.

They ran into the newly made corridor, galloping as fast as they could. They could hear the sound of plants creaking and groaning all around them, and a sound like snakes slithering and hissing off to their left.

“This way! Towards the town center! We don’t have time to worry about it!” shouted Celestia as she fired off another round of magic from her horn. Twilight followed suit, widening their path. She glanced behind them and could see the path where they had run from was already regrowing at an alarming rate.

“I’d take fighting changelings over this any time!” yelled Twilight. Ahead of her, she could make out something big moving through the grass. “Look out, something’s up ahead!”

Celestia nodded and readied her horn for another shot, but a large brown vine resembling a tree root came from the left and knocked her sideways. She fell to the ground and rolled into the tall grass. The blades of grass wrapped around her and lifted her several inches off the ground.

“Princess!” yelled Twilight, stopping and turning to assist her. She couldn’t use magic for fear of harming Celestia, so she pulled grass and vines away with her teeth and hooves, but wasn’t making very fast progress. The grass was growing back in the corridor and began to wrap itself around Twilight’s back legs.

Celestia struggled to free herself as well, but couldn’t regain her footing. She screamed with frustration and began to glow, her body erupting with light. Her true form pushed outward and tore the grass and roots from her body. She quickly extended her wings, grabbed Twilight with her front legs, and shot into the air with powerful wing beats. Soon, they were free from the field and flying far above it.

From the sky, the two of them had a new vantage point to see what was happening below. To the south, they could see the Everfree Forest, which had grown in size and taken over most of the surrounding landscape. The movement of animals from the forest could be seen everywhere. New trees had sprouted up all over, and the movement of new growth was exploding from the forest’s center. The outskirts of Ponyville had been overrun by it all, and most of the buildings were just piles of rubble and plant life.

From the direction of the town center, Twilight and Celestia heard a voice yelling over a bull horn. They both recognized it immediately as Applejack’s.

“Git those barricades repaired faster!” Applejack’s yelled. “Ready the cutters! It’s gonna hit us this time, it’s a biggun!”

Celestia made a beeline towards the sound of Applejack’s voice. For better or worse, the town square seemed like their only option now. As they approached, the sight before them was unlike anything they had seen before.

Walls of charred black wood and stone had been erected all around the square, creating a perimeter. Towers were positioned throughout the wall with lookouts standing guard. The walls themselves were lined with what appeared to be sharp metal blades. Most of them were covered in green pulp and had small chips broken off of them.

“Unicorn squad, ready!” came Applejack’s voice. “Swing!”

Twilight looked in the direction Applejack’s voice had come from. A row of unicorns stood on top of the wall, their horns glowing brightly. On the other side of the wall, a twisted mass of vines and branches were pushing quickly into the wall, but were being met by the numerous large blades being swung by the unicorns.

Suddenly, another voice came from just ahead of the two of them. “AJ! Airborn, south side!” The voice belonged to the mayor, who was standing in a guard tower, staring directly at Celestia and Twilight.

“Unicorn squad, assist south!” shouted Applejack, turning to look. A pair of unicorns broke formation from the rest and ran along the wall towards the south side.

“Wait!” yelled Twilight.

Applejack dropped her bullhorn and shook her head in disbelief. “Twilight?” she said, her eyes wide, her teeth clenched.

The mayor stared and shook her head as well. “Twilight? And the princess?” she gasped.

Celestia shot downward and landed in the courtyard just inside the southern wall. Applejack ran down a set of stairs towards them, her face full of panic.

“Guards!” Applejack yelled as she ran. “Hold them!”

“What?” yelled Twilight, as a group of ponies dressed in armor and carrying spears came from seemingly nowhere and formed a tight circle around her and Celestia. The guards pointed their weapons inwards at the two of them. Applejack approached, and one guard pulled out of formation to let her in. Twilight gasped at the sight of Applejack. Her face was dirty and her hair was pulled down over her right eye, but not enough to completely hide the fact that it was closed. A pair of long scars ran down her cheek from her eye to her jaw.

“Applejack, what’s--” Twilight started, but was cut off by Applejack.

“You two got a lot of nerve showin’ up like this,” said Applejack angrily. “You think we’re buyin’ an extreme makeover like this one?”

“What are you talking about, AJ? It’s us!” said Twilight. “Twilight and Princess Celestia!”

Applejack sighed. “Look, save the lies,” she said. “I figured the forest would eventually make its way to wherever y’all have been hiding ever since the weddin’, but you changelings aren’t welcome here.”

“Changelings? What?” said Twilight as she raised a hoof in frustration. “We’re not--”

“Hey, queen bee!” snapped Applejack as she shot a glance towards Celestia. “You better tell your dog to pipe down!”

“AJ!” yelled Twilight, her jaw dropping. “When did you get so vulgar?”

“It’s okay, Twilight,” said Celestia calmly. “We don’t need to cause any more trouble than we already are.”

Twilight sighed. “Applejack, it’s really us. How can we convince you?” she pleaded.

Applejack raised her hoof and pressed her hat down against her head. “All right. I’ll play along for now,” she said. “We can talk all about it once we got you two locked in a cell. Take ‘em away.”

The guards motioned towards a building with barred windows on the other side of the courtyard and tapped Twilight and Celestia with their spears. “Get moving,” one of the guards said calmly.

Twilight shook her head, but obeyed, walking alongside Celestia and the guards towards the apparent jail house. As she walked, she heard Applejack’s voice from behind her. “I’ll be there as soon as this attack’s over. Y’all better come up with a good story!” she yelled.

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