• Published 13th Dec 2018
  • 4,957 Views, 261 Comments

It Sleeps Beneath Foal Mountain - the7Saviors

Something isn't quite right about Tree of Harmony, and Twilight Sparkle will do whatever she can to find out what. The mystery she stumbles upon however, reaches much farther than she knows, and she'll soon find some secrets are best kept hidden...

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It was I who bore witness...

I suppose I have nopony to blame but myself for what I saw that night.

It was supposed to be nothing more than a fun camping trip in the Everfree—a well thought out and perfectly planned retreat that would give me a chance to spend some quality time with all of my friends.

We'd all been absurdly busy, both within, and outside of school activities. I myself had a particularly full schedule with my duties as Headmare of the School of Friendship. It was Starlight Glimmer that had ultimately convinced me that we all needed to take some time off and do something fun.

Feeling she was right, I began the painstaking process of planning this retreat. I planned the date, the campsite—which I had opted to set up right next to the Tree of Harmony, the provisions, the wards I'd created and cast around the Cave of Harmony to keep away the more dangerous critters of the forest, and several activities to keep things fun and exciting during the trip.

The day arrived and we all set out into the Everfree and towards the campsite I'd prepared. Aside from a few distractions here and there, things were proceeding rather well. Unfortunately things began to go awry when Pinkie Pie rushed on ahead of the rest of the group.

Not helping matters was Fluttershy, who'd been distracted and lagged behind to the point that we had all lost sight of her. Things naturally snowballed from there, and what was supposed to be a simple trek through the forest to the campsite, soon became a hectic search to find our missing friends.

It was a trying task, made all the more difficult by the fact that some of my friends were acting strangely. Pinkie's behavior in particular, now that I think back on it, was not dissimilar to how she acted when Discord had hypnotized her, albeit with less anger and more apathy.

I should have been more suspicious than I was, and perhaps I might've been had my mind not been so focused on finding everypony and getting things back on track. Perhaps there may have been some merit to what Pinkie said to me when we eventually found Fluttershy.

Perhaps I had been a bit too preoccupied with seeing everything I had worked so hard to set up go to plan, and hadn't paid enough attention to the needs of my own friends. At the time however, I was upset and lashed out, and thus began the arguments.

We all eventually found each other and it seemed there was much confusion to be had amongst all of us. Hurtful words and harsh accusations were thrown every which way, causing frustration all around to build to new levels.

In retrospect, it had been such a silly and meaningless squabble over a simple misunderstanding. We should have resolved it easily, as friends would've and should've, but the heated voices and stomped hooves grew into a chaos such that Discord would be proud.

It was at that point that I had decided I had enough.

I needed space, I needed some time and a place to think, and so I did the one thing I should've never done. Without so much as a word to the others, I left, storming off into the underbrush and heading deeper into the forest.

Rather than deal with anymore of their nonsense, I chose instead to make my own way to the campsite. Applejack knew the way well enough, and once they had all settled back down like I knew they eventually would, she would lead the way for the rest of the group.

I stopped only once, just out of sight of the bickering mares, and found that they hadn't even realized I was gone. In my own fit of anger and frustration, I stomped off into the trees and was soon gone.

It was some time before my ire finally abated, and I soon found myself filled with regret over my own actions. As the Princess of Friendship, I, more than any of them, should've been the one to stay and resolve the matter between us, but I fled.

I don't know what caused me to react that way, but I had gone far, and was nearing my destination. Even through the thick foliage I could tell it was growing dark, and Luna would soon be raising the moon.

I reasoned that it would soon become too dangerous to search for my friends on my own, and they were safer in a group either way. Certainly I had magic on my side, but it was always better to err on the side of caution, not to mention I could already sense the wards I had erected just up ahead.

With one last worried glance back to where I'd come from, and a somewhat heavy, guilt laden heart, I pushed forward. As I got closer to the camp, and the day grew darker, my worries increased exponentially.

In my growing panic, my mind began to concoct all sorts of terrible events. I was riddled with even more guilt at the thought that some horrible fate awaited my friends because I wasn't there with them, and the thoughts gnawed at me relentlessly.

By the time I reached the cave and had passed into the safety of my wards, I was all but ready to turn right back around and gallop off in the opposite direction towards where I'd come from, despite the danger. If the girls were in trouble, I needed to be there to defend them, I thought.

As I turned to leave, I was suddenly aware of an odd series of sounds. It sounded like there was magic being cast somewhere deeper into the cave, and it was powerful magic at that. Then the magic cut out and I heard a loud cry, followed by several more.

They were all startled cries, and their startling familiarity made me pause and turn around in shock. The voices had come from the direction of the camp, and as the cries continued, my heart began the thunder in my chest.

It sounded like the girls were in trouble, for it was their voices that I heard, much to my horrified disbelief. How had they made it to the camp before me? What was causing them all that distress? Were they being attacked? Had my worst fears come to pass?

All these questions bounced about in my head and before I myself even realized it, I was already rushing off in that direction. I could have easily teleported the required distance, but the fear and dread thwarted any attempt at proper concentration.

Putting it out of my mind, I ran, and didn't stop until I had reached the area where I had set up camp. I soon reached the Tree of Harmony, and what I saw was not at all what I was expecting.

The Tree of Harmony had sprouted several tentacles, the limbs ghostly yet tangible all the same. To my horror, they were all wrapped tightly around each of my friends save Starlight who was nowhere to be seen. To my bewilderment, one of the mares was none other than myself, and I looked as though I was struggling the most out of all of the girls.

As if the situation wasn't confusing enough, I spotted the tall black form of Queen Chrysalis off to the side, watching the display with just as much shock as I was. I turned my attention back to the tree just in time to see the tentacles tighten around the girls.

I felt a strong pulse of something emanate from the ethereal limbs, and in an instant, right before my eyes, my friends and the mare who shared my likeness melted as though they were wax that had been put too close to the fire.

I screamed.

I was unsure if it was from the terror I felt, or if it was the agony of watching my friends being melted into puddles. Perhaps it was both, but whatever the case may have been, I felt powerless to stop it. I galloped forward, ignoring the words my double spoke, ignoring Chrysalis, ignoring just how suspect this whole situation really was.

The Tree of Harmony was killing my friends, and that was all that mattered in my mind.

I eventually reached the tree, but It was far too late, and the damage had been done. They had all been melted and warped into unrecognizable shapes. I let out a heartbroken wail as I reached out a hoof towards the mares I'd grown to love as much as my own family.

I didn't know what I was expecting to accomplish with my actions. Maybe I just wanted to be close to them, maybe I wanted to join them, I couldn't say with my own thoughts in such turmoil. I didn't get a chance to dwell on it for long however, as a blinding flash of light suddenly erupted from the tree and lit up the cave. The light was tangible and powerful enough to throw me backwards against a far wall.

Images flashed through my mind then—things I couldn't quite understand or even describe properly. I saw visions of swirling darkness, an endless array of stars, I saw myself, a serene smile upon my face, I saw the Tree of Harmony, I saw a familiar monument deep within a forest somewhere.

I saw a mountain, I saw it crumble, I saw a pillar of that same swirling darkness rise in its place, I saw the beginnings of something much larger than the mountain itself crawl its way out of the depths of that darkness.

Then consciousness returned.

I gasped and choked and coughed as I struggled to rise from where I lay on the ground. My body ached terribly and my mind was in complete and utter disarray from everything I'd seen.

I looked up and towards the Tree, only to scream again when I saw the shining form of myself staring back at me with unblinking eyes and that same serene smile I had seen only moments ago. Chrysalis and my dead friends had disappeared while I was indisposed, and it was just myself and the thing standing at the base of the glowing Tree of Harmony.

It took a sudden step forward towards me and I scrambled away, shrieking for all I was worth. The only thing I wanted to do in that moment was escape. Tears in my eyes and my heart fit to burst with terror, I found my footing, and turned away from the creature imitating my form.

I fled the cave and didn't look back.

I don't know how long I galloped through that forest, nor did I know where exactly it was that I was headed. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had to get away. I had to get away from that tree, I had to get away from the death of my friends, I had to get away from those terrifying images that had assaulted my mind.

I had to get away from the insanity of everything I had seen in the Cave of Harmony.

As I leapt through some foliage, I hit something solid and tumbled backwards onto my haunches. Shaking my head, I looked up to see that I'd galloped right into a stunned Applejack. My mouth dropped open as I looked past her and saw the rest of my friends bringing up the rear, some of them still arriving through more foliage opposite of where I was.

For a long moment I simply sat there, mouth hanging open and eyes wide with disbelief. They were all here, all of them, alive and healthy. They looked worried, and when they all spotted me, they rushed to see if I was okay, but I was still reeling from the shock of seeing them all here in front of me.

I had just watched them all die a horribly gruesome and painful looking death, yet here they were. The implications were lost amidst the torrent of emotion that washed over me. At some point I realized I had pulled Applejack into a bonecrushing hug, sobbing with relief all the while.

No doubt my friends were just as bewildered as I should've been at that moment, but I didn't care. I was just happy to see them all alive and unharmed. Eventually the rest joined Applejack and I, the singular embrace becoming a large group hug. It was warm, it was heartfelt, it was soothing, it was comforting.

It was friendship, and it was exactly what I needed right then.

All too soon the hug broke and words of concern and forgiveness were exchanged between all of us. I of course, told the rest of the group of what I found in the Cave of Harmony, and they responded with the expected looks and exclamations of horror and confusion.

I did not however, tell them about the brief vision I had experienced, nor did I tell them about my other look alike.

For some reason I couldn't fathom, I felt the need to keep that to myself. It was almost an irresistible compulsion in fact, and it was a compulsion I readily obeyed. I didn't want to burden the others anymore than I already had. They were growing nervous as it was, and I didn't want to throw more fuel on the fire.

At least, that's what I told myself.

After some discussion, it was agreed that Chrysalis had been up to no good once again, and had somehow created clones of all of us. That would've explained everypony's odd behavior over the course of the trip, but just what was her goal? What did Chrysalis hope to accomplish at the Tree of Harmony with these clones?

Thinking about the Tree of Harmony sent a chill down my spine, and it was only with great, but carefully hidden reluctance that I agreed to follow the rest of my friends back to the Cave of Harmony to investigate.

While they discussed various possibilities about what it could all mean, I dragged my own hooves behind them, eyes downcast, and my body shaking slightly. My thoughts went back to everything I had witnessed, including the vision, and I almost didn't notice when we finally reached the campsite.

It was Rainbow's voice that snapped me out of my downward spiral, and as I looked back up, my eyes widened yet again. Rainbow Dash had stated, with some annoyance, that there was nothing out of the ordinary.

She'd been right, as far as I and the rest of the girls could see. When I had first enter the cave, I had seen that our campsite was a mess, no doubt destroyed by the clones when they entered.

Now however, as we all made our way to the camp, there was nothing to indicate that anypony aside from myself had ever been here. The tents, the fire pit, the tree, everything was exactly as it should've been. There was no unsettling glow about the Tree of Harmony, there was no ghostly tentacles or ethereal replica to speak of.

It was as if it had all just been some kind of horribly vivid nightmare, and judging by the way some of the others looked at me, it seems they may have believed that to actually be the case. Still, I know what I saw, and I had my aching bruises to prove it.

I tried once more to explain, and the rest lent sympathetic ears, but I could tell they no longer believed me. Fluttershy herself had even suggested I may have simply taken a tumble and hit my head at some point. I wanted to get angry, and I was certainly frustrated, but I held my irritation in check.

We had all just gotten over our earlier argument and there was no need to start a new one. I instead forced myself to join in the activities I myself had planned, laughing and playing right along with the others.

It was all a front however, and my thoughts refused to be quelled so easily. Even as we settled in for the rest of the night, I never stopped thinking about what had transpired. I was almost certain I would suffer some horrendous nightmare involving what I'd seen, and that made it difficult to fall asleep.

When I finally did succumb to my exhaustion, I closed my eyes and slept, but I did not dream.

Author's Note:

This story was inspired by a number of things. Specifically, Lovecraft (obviously), the creeping horror the Tree of Harmony has become in season eight, this story, and a dream I had. Just consider this an alternate universe where Old Ones, Elder Gods, and Outer Gods reside, and are perhaps closer than you think.

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