• 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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I gazed into the blackest abyss...

That night I dreamt not of unfathomable eldritch horrors, but of various places, both familiar and not at all. In the bowels of my subconsciousness I wandered across an infinitely dry and expansive desert. I lost my way in a complex and convoluted network of crystalline caverns.

I wound my way through what appeared to be a massive subterranean city made of stoneā€”its many massive structures in various states of ruin and decay. I dreamt too of hiking up those tall mountains and peering down over the edge of a mighty cliff at the endless sea of trees far below. I saw once more, the strange monument deep within that thick forest, positive that I knew it from somewhere, but unable to recall where.

As I made my way towards the center of that strange and ominous monument, I felt the stone platform beneath my hooves give way, plunging me into a darkness so profound that I feared I'd soon forget what it was like to bask in even the dimmest of light. I could not tell how long I was left to flounder about in that endless sea of black and silence, but I felt it was too long by far.

Then came the chill.

A freezing cold sensation wracked my body, its bite intense enough to pierce the bone and turn the marrow to ice. I felt myself shake and shudder uncontrollably, certain that I would die from the shock, but I did not, and that was not the end of it.

A sudden and horrendous itching in my eyes tore my focus away from the cold, and though my desire to rub and scratch at my face was almost manic, I didn't seem to have the means to do so. All too soon, the horrible itch had intensified to the point that I would've gladly torn my eyes from their sockets to rid myself of the sensation.

As if the experience weren't nightmarish enough, I began to hear something in the distance. It was faint at first, but seemed to grow in volume by the second, and when I finally heard it clear over my extreme discomfort, my mind grew hazy with a fear not unlike that of the prey soon to be devoured by the predator.

The sound, as I heard it, was loud, repetitive, and natural. The closest I could compare it to was the slow, steadily flapping wings of some great avian creature. With each slow and heavy beat of its no doubt massive wings, the creature in the dark, whatever it may have been, drew closer and closer, and I could do nothing but silently suffer as the biting cold and terrible itch overwhelmed me.

Then just as I was sure the unseen beast was upon me, a shrill, echoing whistle jolted me awake. I gave a surprised and terrified shriek, startling the conductor who'd apparently come to rouse me from my slumber.

It took me several moments to regain my bearings, as my vision was extremely limited and I could barely see anything at all. For a second I feared I had gone blind, but gradually, my sight began to return, though my eyes were somewhat sore and I could still feel phantom sensations of the unbearable itch from my most recent nightmare.

When I finally calmed down enough to think clearly, the conductor inquired about my health. I told the concerned earth pony stallion I was fine, and that it had only been a nightmare, but he remained unconvinced. When I asked him why, he had informed me that he'd originally come to tell me that the train was nearing my destination.

As he was making his way back towards the coach I was in, he heard an agonized scream from up ahead. The stallion hurried the rest of the way to where I was, and when he pulled open the door, he found me thrashing about wildly, my own hooves scraping viciously against my face.

From what the conductor described, I was completely oblivious to the outside world, and would not wake for anything, save the deafening whistle of the train as it prepared to pull into the stop. I listened to the stallion's account with a mounting unease, but managed to maintain an outwardly calm and collected expression.

I spent the next few moments trying to convince the conductor that I was fine, and he moved on eventually, most likely because he had to keep the train on schedule rather than because he thought I was truly well. I thanked him as he escorted me off the train, but just as I was about to depart, he called out to me one last time.

When I turned to inquire as to what he wanted, he simply stared at me with the strangest look. He opened his mouth to say something, but seemed to decide against it and shook his head before apologizing and returning to the train. A few moments later, the train pulled out of the stop with another shrill whistle and continued on its way.

I watched it go for a few seconds before adjusting my saddlebags and heading into the train stop. The rain had passed by the time I'd arrived, and it looked as though Celestia had only just raised the sun. It was only then that I realized the journey by train was supposed to take at least two days, and I'd only been conscious for one of them.

Much to my shock, I'd completely slept through the second half of my trip. I remembered my latest dream well, and as I stood there in a stunned stupor, I wondered just how long I was made to wander those landscapes, and why. What was I doing? What was I searching for?

Whether it was one continuous journey to the mysterious and familiar mountains, or whether or not I was randomly jumping from location to location, I did not know, but I did know what my ultimate destination had been.

That frustratingly familiar and terribly ominous monument.

That was where everything had fallen apart, and that was when and how I came to know true darkness. The horror, the silence, the indescribable chill, and that maddening itch. I wondered if that was what death felt like, and if the monstrous beating of wings I'd heard was some kind of demon come to drag me off to wherever the dead were meant to go.

But no, that was not the case, and I stood here, alive and basking in the warmth of the early morning sun. I could tell however that this had been more than a dream. I could still feel that itch, distantly, but as surely as I could feel the wooden platform beneath my hooves.

My eyes were still slightly sore, and I found that the soreness grew marginally worse in the sunlight. Deciding not to aggravate the situation any more, I quickly made my way into the stop to purchase a map of the surrounding area. There were no other ponies at the stop aside from me and the older pegasus mare that worked the counter, something I found oddly comforting.

When I went to purchase my map however, I saw that the mare behind the counter was giving me the same odd look the conductor gave me before he returned to the train. When I asked her if there was something wrong, she leaned in close, squinting as though she were looking for something in my facial features.

An awkward moment of silence passed by and the mare leaned back once more, mumbling something about her old eyes playing tricks on her. Somewhat perturbed, I asked again if something was wrong, but she waved away my concerns, retrieved a map for me, and sent me on my way.

The mare up until that point had been fairly friendly, so her sudden desire to see me gone, was a bit odd. I was left rather put out, but more than that, her behavior only confirmed that something was wrong with me. I'd felt it in the itching and soreness in my eyes that had yet to abate.

These were not mere phantom sensations, and I was now certain that whatever afflicted me was visible for all to see. Those that did see, didn't seem to like what was displayed, and though I severely wished not to, I resolved to find out just what it was about me that had unsettled the conductor and the old mare at the train stop.

As I stood at the stop, I pulled a book out of my saddlebags and focused my attention on its maroon cover. I'd failed to bring any sort of mirror or really anything with a reflective surface with me, but I didn't need anything of the sort.

Being an avid student of thaumatology, I'd studied all manner of spells both fantastical and mundane, both practical and cosmetic. In this particular instance I opted to pull from my not inconsiderable font of magical knowledge, a spell meant to cast a reflective surface upon any object so long as it was flat and tangible.

The spell was cast upon the cover of the book and I was finally able to see what it was about my own visage that caused such unease. At first I could see nothing out of the ordinary, but upon closer inspection I could tell something was off. leaning in close, I focused my gaze on my own eyes, and that was when I saw it.

My normally amethyst irides had dulled to a slightly darker shade, and the pupils had noticeably contracted, though that may have simply been due to shock. What could not be explained away so easily was the slight deformity one could see if one looked close enough.

My pupils were no longer perfectly round as they ought to have been. Rather, it looked as though somepony with a particularly unsteady hoof had tried and failed to draw a completely flawless circle, the result of which would've described my eyes well enough.

It was hard to see at a glance, but anypony who held eye contact for a certain period of time would eventually notice something was amiss. Horrified by this new discovery, my spell faltered and failed, and I nearly dropped the book altogether.

I caught it in my magic however, and returned it to one of my bags before turning to stare out at the vast forest between the Galloping Gorge and Vanhoover. I was in a daze, disturbed and confused at what had happened to me, to my eyes.

My prior dreams and nightmares had been as terrifying as they were mystifying to be sure. To date, I still hadn't found out just how I'd managed to emerge unscathed from the Everfree during my previous nightmare, nor did I know how or why I'd written that cryptic entry in my journal.

As baffling and unnerving as all that had been however, none of what happened to me then had been the cause of such a physical and unnatural change as this. As I thought about what this could mean, how it related to my most recent dream, how I could possibly fix it, and what my friends would say if I couldn't by the time I returned, my panic began to rise anew.

Thankfully I was alone for the time being, and had time to think of some sort of solution to my dilemma. I could always cast a glamour over my own eyes to make it seem as if all was normal, but, while minimal, the drain of my magical reserves would be continuous, and should I lose focus for even a moment, the spell would break entirely.

As I pondered my options, my thoughts eventually turned to Daring Do, and her vast knowledge of the arcane and occult, a knowledge that admittedly far surpassed my own. If anypony knew of a solution, or at the very least what this could all mean, it would be Daring Do.

I'd already shared with her some of the details of the strange and horrifying events that had befallen me, and this was simply another issue that needed looking into. It was also during my rumination that I remembered the encounter I'd had with the stallion dressed in black.

That too was something I'd need to discuss with Daring, as I was certain that Sound Mind was no normal stallion. With all of this in mind, and the hope that the adventurous pegasus would be able to help me unravel this morbid mystery, I spread my wings and took to the sky, heading westward over the forest.

I still had a day's travel ahead of me, and it was my earnest wish that it be an uneventful affair. With all I'd had to endure by now, I would've been a fool to expect as much, but still I held fast to the hope that all would end well.

Despite the dreams, despite what I'd seen, despite my harrowing encounter with the strange stallion on the train, and even despite this new and distressing development, I still held fast to that hope, because I was beginning to fear what would become of me and my sanity if I didn't.

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