• Published 13th Dec 2018
  • 4,948 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 met with a peculiar stallion...

It was during my travel to Daring Do's abode deep within the remote forests beyond the Galloping Gorge, that I had my first encounter with a strange and altogether unsettling stallion. Looking back, I suppose this experience, I fear, may be where my descent into madness and the occult truly began.

I was still aboard the Friendship Express, the locomotive currently bound for the station just past the mountains east of Vanhoover. In retrospect, I would've done well to simply take the train west to Vanhoover and make my way northeast into the forest, but my nagging and almost feverish need for subtlety bade me travel the more scenic route to the east instead.

Of other ponies traveling aboard the Friendship Express, there were very little. I'd seen perhaps two or three other passengers upon wandering the cars, and those I came across were content to mind their own business.

Aside from the odd friendly greeting, I left them to their devices and spent most of the trip reading through one of the novels I'd brought with me for the long trip. I silently remarked to myself how strange it was to see the Friendship Express so devoid of passengers, but in the end, I merely reasoned that there weren't a lot of ponies that traveled out this way by train.

Satisfied with that answer, I focused my attention on the book before me, and did not stir for several hours. It would not be the first time that I had become so engrossed in a single work of literature—far from it, but even entranced as I was, I could feel the niggling ever-present thoughts behind my actions.

Certainly I enjoyed the novel I'd been reading to be sure, but my desire to drown myself in those pages stemmed from more than a leisurely way to pass the time. As the train moved further from civilization and out of the pegasi controlled weather zones, the clouds began to thicken and darken, releasing a steady, and dreary downpour.

The rain, though not heavy, lasted for most of the day, and well into the night. While the patter of raindrops against the window normally put me at ease and in a state of contentment, for a reason I could not fathom, it now put me on edge, and my thoughts grew as dark as the clouds outside my window.

It may have been the combination of the slow, dull roar of distant thunder and the relative silence of the cabin I alone resided in, but I found myself assaulted by the memories of what I'd gone through thus far. Though important and no doubt meaningful, these memories, dreams, and visions were nevertheless unpleasant.

I did not wish to think upon them if I had no reason to do so, and so I opted to drown out the morbid thoughts by immersing myself in wholesome works of literature far removed from the macabre content that dwelled within my memory.

It worked for a time, and I managed to while away the dull grey afternoon and dark stormy evening without incident. It was when the first night on the train had completely fallen that things changed, and decidedly not for the better.

Just when I'd finished the last few pages of the book I'd been so desperately focused on, I heard a soft knock at the cabin door. Gentle though it may have been, the suddenness of the sound was still enough to give me quite a start. I eyed the door warily, wondering just who out of the very few ponies aboard would bother to see me at this time, and to knock so politely.

Despite my several hours of reading, I still remained somewhat on edge, but despite this, and my better judgement, I bade the guest enter. Once the cabin door slid open and that guest had crossed the threshold of the doorway however, I felt a sudden and intense regret.

A stallion trotted into the cabin with a sort of casual, easy gait that matched the friendly smile upon his face. He was a rather tall earth pony, and his coat was of a simple, unassuming tan color.

His deep black mane was short cropped and immaculately maintained, and he hid his eyes behind dark, circular sunglasses. He wore pants and a large, old fashioned tailcoat, the end of which reached down past his tail and almost slid against the floor of the train.

His queer clothing, like his short cropped mane, was of the deepest black in coloration, and as I watched him approach closer to my seat, I had to suppress a shiver. Though I'd never met him before, I could tell there was something oddly familiar, and inherently vile about this stallion.

What's more, I had not seen this stallion board the train, nor did I see him as I made my way through each of the cars. The train hadn't stopped since its departure from the Ponyville train station, so he couldn't have come aboard at any point afterwards.

It was wholly possible that we simply missed each other as I made my way to my cabin, but somehow I highly doubted that was the case. Whatever the case, the sight of this stallion did nothing to ease my worry, despite his affable expression and pleasant tone as he spoke.

HIs tone, as he greeted me and apologized for the intrusion, was deep, but not terribly so. He seemed polite, almost to a fault and when he requested to take the seat across from my own, I found myself unable to say no. He thanked me graciously and took up the seat opposite mine.

For a long moment, perhaps longer than necessary, I simply stared at the stallion. He was by no means an unattractive sort—far from it in fact, but rather than attract me to him, his chiseled features repelled me for reasons that seemed to dance just out of my reach.

If he noticed or took issue with my gawping, he did not show it, rather, he had turned his gaze, hidden as it was behind those dark shades, towards the window, vocally lamenting the terrible weather. I managed to collect my wits soon enough and after a hasty and awkward apology on my part, I forced a smile upon my face and introduced myself to the stallion.

He responded in kind, introducing himself as Doctor Sound Mind. He claimed to be a psychologist from Vanhoover, and was on his way back home. I found that difficult to believe, not only because I did not trust this Sound Mind, but also because the train was not bound for Vanhoover.

When I told him this much, he merely gave a hearty chuckle and waved the matter away, stating that it was an honest mistake on his part. I remained unconvinced, but chose to move the topic of discussion elsewhere. When I remarked upon his strange attire, he informed me that he had a fondness for the fashion of Equestria's early modern era, with Trottingham in particular being an inspiration.

Our small talk went on in this manner for several more minutes, and I found the stallion's presence had become easier to bear the longer we talked. To my surprise, and delight, he knew, and had seen much of Equestria over many years, and had many interesting stories to tell.

For my part, I told him of the many adventures my friends and I had been on, and was shocked to learn that he'd already known of our exploits. I suppose it wasn't all that surprising considering what the rest of the girls and I had accomplished together, and the fact that I was indeed the Princess of Friendship, but the depth of his knowledge still caught me a bit off guard nonetheless.

It was at this point that the conversation took an unexpected, and unsettling turn. As I finished telling Sound Mind of my school and the trials I'd had to go through to get it officially registered, he suddenly fell silent and merely watched me for a time.

It had gone on long enough that I once again grew nervous and wary, that same sense that something was off once more crawling its way into my mind. My unease was only doubled by the fact that I could not discern his expression behind those dark sunglasses.

Deciding I'd had enough of this eerie silence, I made to speak, but Sound Mind had been the faster of us and spoke first. He began to make strange inquiries, asking me if I'd been getting enough sleep or if I'd been hallucinating or seeing strange waking visions.

Needless to say, I was taken aback, as I hadn't once mentioned anything of the sort, and gave no indication that any of this had been the case whatsoever. Even more unnerving was the abrupt change in his tone and demeanor as he needled me with questions.

He'd gone from polite and jovial to grim and focused, almost demanding answers of me as the questions went on, and I answered. I couldn't stop myself, and I answered every one of his questions with unrestrained honesty. I told him of my dreams, my nightmares, my visions, my research into these and the Tree of Harmony, my trip into the Everfree and even where I was headed next.

I told him everything, the words coming out of my mouth in an unstoppable torrent. My heart hammered in my chest and a primal fear overtook me as some malign force continued to pull the words from within and out into the open. The terror continued to mount as the stallion's voice grew deeper, and I could almost hear something beneath the dark tone.

In my panicked state I couldn't be sure, but it almost sounded as though I could hear a faint buzz accompanying his words. I couldn't focus on it for long, as my head began to pound painfully, and my vision began to blur somewhat.

Just when I thought I could take no more, the stallion ceased his unrelenting wave of questions, the faint buzz disappearing and his tone once more that of pleasant conversation. My terror yet remained however, and his words did not end there, for he had more to tell.

He spoke to me of a coming darkness the likes of which not even the far older Princess's had ever seen. He told me that, whether I wanted to or not, I would be the one to unleash that darkness, but he also told me not to fear, for the darkness would bring the truth to light, and that all would be made clear in due time.

I listened, horrified by what I was hearing but unable to speak on the matter. Complete and utter terror and bewilderment had rendered me silent, and I could only listen to Sound Mind's grim and portentous words.

He continued to speak even as he stood up and began making his way back to the cabin's entrance. He implored me to keep my journal close at hoof, for it would lead me to the answers I so desperately sought.

With those last words and a friendly smile upon his face, the stallion that called himself Sound Mind bid me good night and told me with an absolute confidence bordering on arrogance, that we would meet again. He gave one last nod of acknowledgment before sliding the cabin door open and stepping outside.

The door slid closed and I was once more alone with nothing but the sound of rain pelting the windows next to me, and the soft, muffled clatter of the train's wheels as they sped across the tracks outside.

I sat there in my seat, my book fallen to the floor and forgotten, and my entire frame shaking violently. I could feel the cold sweat beading across my forehead, and took several deep gulps of air as I attempted to calm myself.

Whoever that stallion was, it was clear that there was much more to him than he let on. I got the impression that he had already known much, if not all, of what I'd been forced to tell him, and I wondered at his true intent. Why the façade of kindness, and why go through such an interrogation?

Why did he seem so familiar?

He'd said we would meet again, and, with a terrible sort of certaintly, I knew he was right. I knew we would see each other again, and I feared and dreaded what may come of that next meeting.

As I thought on his words—in particular, his mention of the 'coming darkness'—the image of that swirling dark pillar rising from beneath the mountain pulled itself from my memory and I shuddered again. If Sound Mind was to be believed, that may very well have been the darkness he was talking about, and evidently I was to bring that to bear.

I didn't want to believe it, and for the most part I didn't believe it, but still, there was some doubt and uncertainty that could not be denied. He'd also said that some great truth would come to light in the wake of the oncoming darkness, but the meaning of those words eluded me.

I suppose he may have meant that a truth would be revealed about the Tree of Harmony, but I couldn't be sure, and in my present state, I was unable to properly grasp any kind of understanding of the situation.

The experience had left me in a horrible way, and for a while I could scarcely collect my own thoughts. Eventually, and thankfully, I managed to reclaim my faculties, but by that point, I felt drained, weak, and tired.

With all that had happened only moments ago, I did not want to sleep and didn't believe that it would come so readily, yet the soothing patter of rain against the window began to lull me, and my eyelids soon grew heavy.

Before I knew it, I was, reluctantly, but inevitably, whisked away into subconsciousness.

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