• Published 13th Dec 2018
  • 4,958 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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I trotted amidst the silent trees...

I made my landing at the edge of the forest, and for a moment I simply stood there. I scanned the trees with a nervous gaze, the similarity of my current situation to that horrid dream not lost on me.

Already I could feel something wrong in the forest, and I hadn't even made my way inside yet. I half expected my other self to come waltzing right out into the open, but after several moments of inactivity on my part, nothing happened.

The night remained quiet, save for the sound of rustling leaves on the wind. I shivered and looked about, a chill passing over me that I was certain had nothing to do with the slightly chilly air. Still, I saw nothing out of the ordinary.

Deciding I'd stalled long enough, I once more shored up my courage, adjusted my saddlebags, and pressed forward into the murky darkness of the Everfree. I'd lived in Ponyville for a good few years now, and my friends and I had made several trips into the Everfree for one reason or another.

I couldn't speak for the others, but I myself had made note of several landmarks within, and was confident in my direction, even without a map. Still, I was wary of the nighttime dangers each twist and turn might've contained, and kept my eyes and ears open as I slowly and carefully made my way through the thick underbrush.

I stumbled a bit here and there, doing my best to duck beneath the gnarled branches hanging low overhead. I missed an upturned root or two in the almost absolute blackness surrounding me, but I did an adequate job in stepping over any smaller obstacles in my way.

I allowed the rays of the moon, scarce as they were, to light my way, and was thankful that it was bright enough to travel by, even if only just. I didn't dare to cast any sort of magelight for fear of attracting some carnivorous denizen of the Everfree... or worse.

The noise I'd been making as I blundered my way through the trees had been loud enough as it was, and my nerves were already rattled from imagined horrors lurking in the dark. As I made my way deeper into the forest and towards the Cave of Harmony, I began to have doubts.

I thought myself prepared for whatever terrifying revelation awaited me in the cave, or even in this forest, but as my mind wandered, I couldn't help but wonder at the hideous, mountainous thing I saw crawling its way out of that great, pitch black pillar in my vision.

I'd only gotten a glimpse before the vision ended, but it was enough to send more chills down my spine, and what little I did see, I couldn't even begin to describe in any reliable detail. I wondered, not for the first time since making my way into the Everfree, just what I was getting myself into.

I wondered at the mysterious forest and the oddly familiar rock formation therein. As with the creature from beneath the mountain, the image of the formation had been far too brief, and, much to my frustration, I couldn't pull the memory of where I'd seen such a place to the surface of my mind.

Just why, and how was it that the tree had shown me such cryptic, horrifying, and portentous visions? What did they mean, and what did the unblinking mimic with the soft smile have to do with it all? If this strange and unnerving look alike did indeed have something to do with those images, then what did it mean to gain by showing me?

My thoughts continued on in this manner for a good while and the distraction helped to settle my frayed nerves somewhat. As I took a moment to reassert my focus towards the world outside my musings however, I felt an unpleasant tingle at the base of my neck, and shivered as it spread throughout my entire body.

I slowed to a stop, looking this way and that. My eyes were wide and searching, the thump of my heart becoming louder in my ears. I felt as though something was watching me, but I couldn't hear anything, nor could I make out a sound, no matter how I strained my ears.

The silence, in fact, was absolutely deafening.

There was no wind, there was no rustling of leaves or settling of stone. I heard no animalistic cries nor the skittering of the creatures that called this forest home. It was a silence fit to make my ears ring, and in that silence I could now clearly make out the heavy, quickening thump of my heart and the increasing rapidity of my breathing.

I could see nothing beyond the rays of the moon, and yet, I could still feel the gaze of something in that insurmountable darkness. I slowly made my way forward once more, my legs shaking slightly and my eyes scanning each and every tree around me.

I wanted to run for fear of being attacked suddenly, I wanted to scream the almost unbearable silence away, I wanted to cast a light so bright as to imitate Celestia's sun itself. I wanted desperately to banish the encroaching darkness and bring forth the silently creeping monstrosities I was all but certain it held, if for no other reason than to be rid of this gut wrenching dread.

I did none of those things.

Instead, I reigned in my rapid breathing and moved forward slowly and deliberately, making as little noise as equinely possible. It seemed a futile effort, as each and every step sounded as though it was magnified tenfold in the eerie quiet of the forest.

Each minute that passed by felt like an eternity, and that horrible sense of being watched by some malevolent force never once abated, but still I pressed on. By the time I finally reached the clearing where the Cave of Harmony resided, my breath had grown shaky, and a cold sweat had broken out across my brow.

I had to stop myself from breathing a sigh of relief, as I felt the suddenness of the sound would cause whatever was out there to fling itself from out of the trees and tear me to pieces, such was my fear as I carefully stepped out into the clearing.

I was astonished.

I'd made it out of that ominous thicket of trees unmolested, despite all my fears and worries, despite the unsettling quiet, and despite the malicious presence I'd felt. I didn't stop to celebrate my good fortune however, and quickly closed the rest of the distance between myself and the cave ahead.

Almost as soon as I stepped into the cave, that ever present feeling of eyes watching me from a distance faded entirely. At the same time, the silence around me became far less stifling, allowing me to hear the echo of my hoofsteps, the steady drip of condensed water somewhere deeper within, and the soft howl of wind as it passed through the mouth of the cave.

My relief was short lived however, as I discovered that the cave itself had become oddly cold, the drastic drop in temperature making me shudder slightly. The air outside had been getting steadily colder as the night wore on, but this was a chill of a different breed.

It didn't feel at all natural, and as I stood there, just past the entrance of the cave, I was struck by how foolish I felt in attempting such a trek on my own. I'd come too far to turn back now at any rate, and I wasn't keen on traveling through the forest again so soon, not with that foreboding atmosphere and the unseen eyes lurking just beyond my vision.

I shuddered once more at the thought, and began to make my way down the narrow, uneven, stony slope that led to the bottom of the cave where the possible source of all my fears and curiosities lay. The Tree of Harmony was soon within sight, and as I neared it, my steps began to slow.

I gazed upon the tree with no small amount of nervousness and hesitance, finding I was not nearly so eager to undertake this task as I'd been before. Flashes of that abominable nightmare assaulted my mind, and I could almost hear the unearthly song of that frighteningly, mind-bendingly gargantuan monstrosity playing in my ears.

I swallowed and took a few more halting steps until I was standing not more than a few yards away from the tree. I maintained my alertness, watching for any sudden movements, waiting for any ghostly white tentacles to sprout from the many oddly twisted branches.

My wary gaze passed over the six stones embedded in the softly glowing tree, and a pang of worry, doubt, and even a small bit of betrayal stabbed at me suddenly. The Elements of Harmony, those shining stones that bore the likeness of each of my friend's cutie marks, with my own at the very center.

That the Tree of Harmony could possibly hold such terrifying secrets was something I never could have expected, and I found myself re-evaluating everything I knew about it and the Elements of Harmony. The Elements were a force of good, that much I knew to be certain.

As the name would suggest, they brought Harmony to the world, they maintained order, and up until the evening I stumbled upon the cave on my own, I'd been under the impression that they would never bring any harm to even those who opposed Harmony and everything it stood for.

Now I found myself unsure, my beliefs shaken, and the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that I didn't know for sure if it caused any harm. I never thought to ask Discord or Luna what it'd been like to be struck by the Elements, never wondered whether they'd been conscious during their terribly long imprisonment.

The very idea was repellent in the extreme, and perhaps that was why I'd never given it a single thought. Had I been trapped in stone or sealed within the moon with my consciousness intact for a millennia, I would've found the embrace of death a comfortable one.

But no, that couldn't have been the case, as Luna was still very much sane, and Discord had been mad even before his imprisonment in stone. Though the deaths of Chrysalis's clones had been disturbing to behold, and the image still made me queasy, they'd no doubt been born of some heinous dark magic.

Certainly its methods may have been a tad extreme, but in the end, the Tree of Harmony was simply protecting itself while ridding the world of the dark impostors. I told myself it was for the best in the end, and continued to tell myself that until I believed it.

Perhaps this was all simply a misunderstanding on my part, I began to think. Perhaps my ethereal clone was part of the tree, and perhaps they'd shown me the vision and that nightmare as a warning of things to come, and meant for me and my friends to stop it somehow.

It made a great deal of sense to me, and I was almost ready to believe it. I wanted desperately to believe it, but then I remembered that empty, unblinking gaze that seemed to swallow me whole, the lack of warmth emanating from the Tree of Harmony even now, and more recently, the sheer malevolence of the forest I'd just traveled through.

The Everfree Forest had gained a reputation for the dangers held within, but I hadn't felt maliciousness like that since the spread of Discord's plunder vines, not in the forest anyway. This however, felt far different—far worse than anything I'd ever experienced before.

Never had I suffered a disturbing silence like that in my entire life, and I prayed to Celestia that I'd never go through such an ordeal again. Trotting through that forest, I felt that, had I taken one single step off the path I'd been traveling, I wouldn't have made it out of the forest at all, and even if I had somehow, I wouldn't have done so with my sanity intact.

These events were what made me doubt what I thought I knew, and they were why I hadn't moved any closer to the tree. As in my nightmare, I felt no comfort being as close as I was, and though the Tree held its familiar glow, it was cold, as cold as the rest of the cave itself.

After a minute or so more of watching and waiting, I chose to move closer, a teleportation spell just at the tip of my horn should a repeat of my nightmare occur in reality. When nothing happened, I grew a bit bolder and took a few more steps forward, circling around the tree, observing it from as many angles as I could.

Save for its strangely cold glow, the Tree of Harmony remained inert as I continued my inspection, and as several minutes passed without incident, my nerves settled and my curiosity began to take over.

I stepped away from the tree and pulled my journal and a quill from one of my saddlebags. Making sure I was a good distance away, I began to write down my findings, or bizarre lack thereof, on the Tree of Harmony.

I also chose to document my harrowing trip through the Everfree, giving much detail to the unnatural silence and stillness, along with the piercing, malignant gaze I felt throughout most of my journey. I wrote too of the uncanny cold of the cave and the tree itself, noting that the warmth and comfort I'd felt so many times before had been completely absent.

It was then that I remembered the strange sensation I'd felt when the tree attacked the clones. Just before it melted the impostors into grotesque, lumpy masses of flesh, I'd felt a sudden pulse of some kind of unfamiliar energy, the sensation of which was altogether unpleasant and had made the skin beneath my fur crawl with fear and disgust.

Just what had that been exactly, I mused, and did it come from the tree itself, or something else entirely? I couldn't say, and the Tree of Harmony was giving me no answers, much to my growing disappointment and frustration. Despite this, I did not give up, and was prepared to spend a good deal longer here in this cave if need be.

That wouldn't have been the case mere minutes ago, but the lack of any activity, my growing curiosity, and my own not insignificant reluctance to tread back through the forest, kept me rooted to the spot. Time passed as I continued my observation of the tree—minutes turning to hours with nothing to show for my perseverance.

I'd long since gone through the provisions I'd brought along, and my eyelids soon began to grow heavy with the threat of sleep. I cast the familiar spell to keep myself awake, only to find that it no longer held any effect.

Though I'd managed to get a full night's rest the night before, I was still in no shape to weather another sleepless night, not without the full effect of the spell keeping me alert and active. Not even my growing panic was enough to stave off the inevitable, and though I tried to fight it, my head slowly sunk down to rest atop the cold hard stone beneath me.

I felt something then, just before I completely lost consciousness, but in my sleepy haze, I couldn't be sure if it was real or not. Just as my head reached the ground, I felt something cold and soft lift it back up again by the chin.

I blinked hard, trying to push back against the oncoming slumber in order to see what had caught me. My gaze, blurred as it was by eyelids heavy with exhaustion, met a familiar glowing lavender shape, and the last clear image I saw before sleep claimed me, were those wide, staring eyes of deepest amethyst.

Author's Note:

If this chapter seems somewhat different in the way it's written, it's probably because I've been listening to a British man narrate hours worth of Lovecraft stories in my spare time. I heard the man's voice in my head the whole time I was writing, and it kind of... influenced things a bit...

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