This is a non-profit fanfiction created for entertainment purposes only. This story is an A.U. one-shot comedy that occurs after the events of episode "Lesson Zero" and the author jake-heritagu's story of... well just all of them. So go read all of them. Go ahead, don't worry. I'll still be here. Also My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is owned by Hasbro and Lauren Faust. Silent Ponyville concept belongs to jake-heritagu on DeviantArt. Please support both.
Zero Delving Lessons
Applejack trotted down the streets of Ponyville with apple treats nestled safely at the bottom of a basket she carried in her mouth. The sun was starting to set and night would be upon her soon but she had a stop to make first. After a very concerning encounter with her good friend Twilight Sparkle she and all the rest of her friends were becoming worried for her. Twilight's frantic behavior over the possibility of not being able to send a letter about friendship to the great Princess Celestia, ruler of their land of Equestria and Twilight's personal instructor in magic, seemed to being pulling the poor mare to her wit's end. Her eyes had been wild and her mane and tail in disarray when they'd all last seen her at their picnic. Since then Twilight had used her magic to disappear and gone to who knows where. Which was what Applejack planned to find out, acting as ambassador for her friends since Twilight was in such a delicate state.
It wasn't just Twilight though that had been off today, something else seemed wrong about Ponyville. Applejack hadn't seen a single pony on the streets since she got into town. The homes didn't look abandoned or anything strange like that but there was no one out. Usually at least the foals would be playing in the sunset till they were forced to come inside. Currently though there wasn't a soul in sight. Despite the strange occurrence Applejack tried not to sweat the small things and so walked with purpose.
However as she rounded the corner to Twilight's Library it became apparent why nopony was around town. Everypony was there.
At least it looked like everypony. There was a large crowd of the townsfolk in front of the library but something was off about them. They were all standing around in silence, like they were asleep or in a trance. Applejack stopped in her tracks at the sight, feeling a little weak in the knees. She was never very good with superstitious or creepy things to begin with, and seeing something that was like a scene out of a scary novel gave her the urge to turn and run. Taking a few steps back she felt her hind quarters make contact with somepony and stopped in her tracks. "Aaaaaaplejaaaaack." Her eyes widened and the color ran out of her coat at the sound. "HI!" Shrieking in a much more girly manner than she was accustomed to, Applejack leaped into the air and came down on all fours facing the other direction, gasping in air and sending her basket of treats flying everywhere. A few collided with the sleep-standing ponies, none of which moved when they were hit.
"Tw-tw-tw..." She shook her head. "Twilight! What the hay's goin on 'round here!" Her purple unicorn friend smiled at her in the creepiest expression Applejack had ever seen on a pony. Oddly though she looked happy.
"Oh nothing! I'm just learning a lesson in friendship that's all!" Applejack looked back at the library and all the sleep-standing ponies in their trances and then back at Twilight, who had somehow gotten closer to her without AJ hearing her hooves hit the ground or a magical pop from a teleportation spell.
"Th-that so?" She smiled nervously at Twilight, just now looking past her to see a wagon hitched up to the unicorn. "What ya got in there?"
"Oh, just another pony in need of my assistance!" Twilight kept her surreal grin as her horn glowed, lifting out a pink pony with a grape and strawberry cutie mark. She was asleep just like the others as Twilight gingerly floated her over by the rest of the crowd and set her on her hooves.
"Wait a minute there... Berry Punch? What happened tah her?" Applejack followed the floating figure, waving a hoof in front of her face with no response.
"Oh, just a little spell to help her through her problems!" Twilight giggled happily but it sounded a bit deranged as she trotted into the library. Applejack's instincts were telling her that following was probably not the best idea, not really wanting any of this "help" Twilight was dishing out. Still she had to find out more for the sake of her friend and walked inside the building.
"What sorta problems would Berry have that she- land sakes!" Applejack's jaw dropped at the sight before her. Ponies, everywhere. All over the library they were standing, sitting, or leaning against the walls and one another. All of them asleep, all seemingly unaware of the world around them. There wasn't a place you could turn to that there wasn't a pony, she must have had half the town shoved into here. Just walking deeper Applejack was forced to brush herself against a few on the way.
"Oh well we all know that Berry Punch enjoys a little bit of the sauce now and then. Don't you think that indicates a bit of a problem? A dependency? An issue?" Twilight was busily arranging quills and scrolls along a table and the floor around it, looking as if she was prepared to take a lot of notes. "That can't be healthy for a pony, why think of the liver damage! So I sent her on a little trip!"
"What sorta trip?" Applejack asked hesitantly, feeling the breathing of a colt nearby on her neck and stepping aside with a shiver, only to find herself closer to yet another pony.
"Well you see there's this teensy little spell I know that helps ponies deal with their trauma! So I figured hey, since I'm such a good friend I might as well help a few people out with my super fantastic magic!" Twilight was smiling proudly but it didn't carry any of the intelligence or accomplishment that her expression normally had. It was more like a mad scientist planning to bring a stitched together stallion back to life. "I'm so helpful that I'm sure all of these ponies will just gush about how much I helped them solve their problems when they wake up!"
"Um... how many of 'em have woken up so far?" Applejack was a little afraid to ask, looking around the crowded room of ponies and not having heard a peep out of any one of them except herself and Twilight.
"Oh none yet, but it takes time to sort through such serious issues! You don't have to worry though, I took precautions." Twilight's smile nearly made Applejack want to crawl inside her hat. Instead she backed up a bit and knocked into somepony, causing a metallic clinking noise behind her. Lowering her gaze she saw each pony had an accessory she was sure none had carried before.
"Ya chained 'em tah the ground!"
"Well yes, but it's all very necessary." Twilight exclaimed putting on some reading glasses... crooked. "You see whenever Pinkie and Fluttershy came out of my spell they didn't tell me anything about what problem they solved. So just to make sure I don't miss a single lesson in friendship everypony will be 'suggested' to stay here until we can work things out." Twilight was speaking pretty confidently signaling to Applejack she was completely serious.
"Wha-what if nopony has a problem?" Applejack was looking around herself for a quick exit but it seemed like somehow all the ponies had gathered together to keep her from escaping despite being out cold.
"Oh everypony has baggage AJ, there's no shame in it." She laughed a little too loudly suddenly. Then stopped with as little warning. There was an uncomfortable silence between the two ponies before Twilight cleared her throat to start again. "Ahem, as I was saying. There's nothing wrong with getting help for your problems, even when they're obvious. So after everypony gets out of their spell, I'll just turn to Spike and say 'Take a letter!', and he will. Well, when he wakes up." Applejack looked past Twilight to a sleeping baby dragon, quill and scroll already in hand as he stood upright and out cold.
"Ya even put little ol Spike under!" Applejack exclaimed shocked.
"Well yeah! You didn't hear this from me but..." Twilight leaned in uncomfortably close to Applejack and whispered. "Spike has a crush on Rarity." Applejack just looked back into the unicorns eyes and after a moment nodded, Twilight slowly leaning back out. "So once he works all that out he'll be able to send my letter for me to Princess Celestia!" She gave Spike a supportive clap on the back, which caused the baby dragon to fall over and roll away from her like a soda bottle, which didn't seem to bother Twilight in the slightest. "Or Owlowicious could carry it for me... once he wakes up." Twilight looked up at the sleeping owl on its perch, just as creepy still as the rest of Ponyville.
"Ya put the owl in a coma too, Twilight!" Applejack could barely comprehend the sight in front of her, Twilight scoffing and rolling her eyes.
"Of course, he's an insomniac. Did you know he stays up all night?"
"Twi'... he's an owl."
"Of course Applejack, I know. But I'm not just going to leave him out because of that. I didn't know you'd discriminate against non-ponies. Frankly, I'm shocked. Next thing I know you'll be saying I shouldn't have invited Tom over." Twilight pointed accusingly over at the boulder that was chained up to a book case, Applejack's jaw nearly hitting the floor at the sight. "He has some serious abandonment issues after Rarity dumped him like that."
"Twilight... okay sugarcube, listen up. I can see you re stressed..."
"I'M FINE!" Twilight suddenly exclaimed, nearly floating off the ground. Applejack put a hoof on her shoulder to help her relax.
"Course ya are, but ah dunno if puttin all these ponies... and other creatures who ah respect as equals to pony-kind... into comas fer the slim possibility they'll have a problem is a good idea. Don't that seem a tad... extreme?" Twilight laughed in an almost sane way at Applejack's question.
"Oh AJ, that's what I love about you. So down to earth and level headed... but sometimes regular answers aren't enough. For instance take Ditzy Doo here." Twilight made her way through the crowd to the blond-maned and grey-coated pegasus. "Our resident mailmare has had issues with her perception for some time now, no doubt caused by a past issue that scared her so badly her eyes decided to try and separate from her! The poor dear, and with a filly to care for too. So brave!" She quickly moved through the crowd to the next pony. "Or Lyra here, who through a strange obsession with a fictional world has begun to believe it possible that she could become an upright, bipedal creature with digits instead of hooves!" Twilight shouted the last part as if she were making such a monstrosity in her mad scientist impression again, lighting crashing in the background even though there was not a cloud in the sky. "Or poor sweet Bonbon here, Lyra's marefriend. She has to put up with Lyra! Can you imagine how stressful that must be!" Twilight made confident strides back over to Applejack. "How about you AJ?"
"M-me! Oh Ah'm fine!" Applejack put her hooves up in surrender. "No problems here! Not a one!"
"Are you sure? I can totally help you." Twilight was approaching her slowly now like some kind of jungle cat looking to pounce on its prey. "Money problems got you down? Maybe you'd had another disagreement with Rarity? Rainbow Dash doing anything to push you over the edge?" She got closer and closer with each question. "Seen any weird things lately like Seaponies in the water? They're related to sardines you know!"
"That's okay, thanks now!" Applejack stated louder than necessary but it didn't deter Twilight. "Don't think ah be needing no magic coma tah fix my problems, thank ya much!"
"It's not a coma, it's a very relaxing spell. Why just ask Pinkie Pie." Twilight turned to the pink pony with the cotton candy like mane. She was standing still like the rest with her eyes closed, still as a statue. "She's gone through it twice now and she came out just fine and dandy in the end!" Twilight rubbed her chin comically as she looked over Pinkie Pie. "That's odd though, I don't remember putting her in the wagon and bringing her here."
"That's cause ah brought her." Applejack answered and Pinkie's eyes shot open. "NOW!" From within the crowd all of Twilight's friends appeared, tackling her to the ground. There was a short tussle before a rope was produced to tie the unicorn up by her hooves and onto her back, Rarity putting an iron cap over Twilight's horn to keep her from using magic. As she struggled to get up Rainbow Dash put on the finishing touches and pulled the rope tight to keep Twilight from escaping. "Whoo whee! That was one of the fastest hog ties ah've ever been a part of."
"Ten seconds flat." Rainbow held her hoof up and got a quick high hoof from Pinkie. "Nothing to it at all." Twilight was struggling against her bonds but it was pretty obvious without her magic she wasn't going anywhere.
"Mighty impressive RD." AJ commented looking over Twilight's current bondage. "Where'd ya learn tah hog tie a pony like that?" Rainbow Dash blinked and looked over at Fluttershy, who was blushing red and hid her face behind her long pink mane.
"I uh... I have a lot of practice with tying up ponies." Rainbow blushed a bit too looking over at her marefriend Fluttershy, who just eeped in a high pitched, embarrassed voice. Rarity admired Dash's handy work and commented with a mischievous grin.
"Think you could share a few pointers when you have the time?" Everypony took a moment to glance Rarity's direction, each playing a scenario in their heads as to why she may need that information. None of which anyone would consider legal for a filly to see. Pinkie broke the mood by poking Twilight on the floor.
"Hey, I thought you promised us you weren't going to use that spell anymore!" She glared at Twilight who was still pulling at the ropes in a frantic desire to escape. "When we asked you not to use that spell on anypony that didn't mean use it on everypony! Not even on opposite day! Unless today is opposite day, which would explain why everypony is sleeping during the day instead of at night. But I know it's not opposite day because we had a picnic outside, which is where you'd have it. Not inside on the kitchen floor, like on opposite day. My floor isn't even clean right now Twilight!" She scolded her friend, Twilight looking guilty at the odd accusations. Having had enough of all the silliness Rarity approached and stroked Twilight's mane down to it's normal smooth appearance.
"Twilight darling, why exactly did you do all of this? It's not really over that letter to Princess Celestia is it?"
"OF COURSE IT IS!" Twilight exclaimed out loud. "If I don't send a letter to Princess Celestia every week she'll think I'm not performing my duties towards friendship! If that happens she'll remove me from Ponyville and take me back to Canterlot, then I'll have to take a test about friendship! Which I didn't study for, so I'll fail! Then I'll be sent to magic kindergarten and never see any of you again!" She gasped in air after her short rant, looking at all her friends in desperation. Applejack let out a sigh.
"Well... I dunno about all a that. But Twi', I think maybe we owe ya an apology." Twilight blinked only half crazy at Applejack this time, listening intently. "Ah can tell yer all twisted up more than a dust devil in a peppermint candy store over this letter, an well we didn't think it was nothin too serious when ya first told us." Twilight s friends were gathering around her, no longer with angry or accusing faces but with eyes filled with concern for a friend. "But clearly it bothered ya, and since ya asked us fer help well... we shoulda been there for ya. Ahm sorry Twi'."
"And I'm sorry too!" Rarity chimed in.
"Me too!" Rainbow Dash declared.
"Me three!" Pinkie Pie announced next. "Or I guess four, since Dashie was three."
"We were all wrong to just dismiss you Twilight." Fluttershy smiled apologetically at her bound unicorn friend. "Maybe if we'd learned our lesson sooner then we could have avoided all of this."
"Lesson... we... we learned a lesson?" Twilight blinked like she was staring off into space. The other ponies gathered around before Twilight leaped up, still tied up by the legs, and landed on her bound hooves. "We learned a lesson! We learned a lesson about friendship! Yay! Finally, finally I have a lesson to write about to Princess... Celestia..." Twilight took a moment to actually look around her library at the collection of ponies currently under the Mind Delve spell, all standing like silent zombies. "Ooooh... oh this isn't good. This isn't good at all. Maybe I uh.. should delay that letter for a day."
"Told you!" Pinkie chimed in. "So now what do we do Twilight? Everypony is all asleep. Can you wake them up from this yourself?"
"Maybe, the Princess was able to end the spell on her own when she cast it on me. Maybe I can do the same if I just... um... errrgh!" Twilight tried to move over to her book stand but found any sort of physical action hard with the rope around her legs. "Is it okay if I'm untied now? I'm feeling a lot better."
"Awww.. but that was the best job I've done yet." Rainbow Dash complained seeing Twilight so eager to get out of her handiwork. "You look pretty good in rope too, you should try just leaving it on for- OWW!" The blue pegasus winced after receiving a sharp kick from Fluttershy. "Jeez Shy, what was that about?"
"Hmph!" The yellow pegasus turned her head from her marefriend in a huff.
"C'mere Twi', Ah'll get ya loose." Twilight rolled back onto her side for Applejack to work at the ropes and untie her. As she climbed over Twilight and was pulling at one of the ends in her mouth the door suddenly swung open. Each one of the mares looked up to see the large, imposing figure in the dipping sunlight stand in the doorway, his body silhouetted against the dusk. "Big Macintosh?"
"Eeyup." He responded simply to his sister, a small rag doll of a pony with funny pants resting on his head.
"Oh, my Smartypants doll!" Twilight exclaimed a bit happily seeing it. "You found it!" Big Mac wasn't really registering her joy at seeing her lost toy, a bit more concerned seeing his sister pinning down the young unicorn while she was bound up in rope, their friends all standing around to watch. Applejack made eye contact with her brother, then back down at Twilight, then back to Big Mac.
"Heh heh... this uh... this ain t what it looks like."
"Eeyup." He responded simply. Although his eyes suggested another conclusion.
"Well then, if you just want to come in and set my doll down on the..."
"Nope." With that Applejack's brother turned and left quickly, shutting the door behind him. Applejack sighed and shook her head.
"The hay that pony got goin on in his noggin?" Applejack worked quickly to untie Twilight, freeing up her legs. "Just glad Applebloom weren't here tah see all a this. Come tah think of it, why was Big Macintosh here? What was he carrying round a doll fer anyway?" Twilight was looking away a bit guilty, but got a motherly glare from Applejack that made her confess.
"Okay okay! I used that doll for a way to get a lesson in friendship earlier! But it didn't work, and Big Macintosh ran off with it after I wasn't able to get the fillies to resolve their fighting! So um... I sort of... decided to try a different spell after that..." The words sunk in after a second and Applejack went about digging through all the passed out ponies, Rarity joining soon after. With a little sorting through the sleeping bodies the mares came onto their goal.
"Applebloom!" Applejack picked up her sister, sound asleep.
"Sweetie Bell, you too!" Rarity cradled her little sister, asleep in her arms and still as a stuffed toy. Scootaloo was there as well with the sleeping Cutie Mark Crusaders, and after a moment everypony looked towards Rainbow Dash who didn't seem especially interested. Pinkie gave Dash a nudge with her hoof getting her to look up.
"What... Oh! Um... Oh no, Scooby Doo! Where are you?" Dash asked a bit confused.
"Her name is Scootaloo, Rainbow Dash." Fluttershy corrected her marefriend.
"That's what I said; Scrappy Doo. So Twilight, can we fix all of this now?" The girls looked to the unicorn who'd taken off the metal cap on her horn, flipping through pages to find a solution. She was reading frantically but it didn't stop Rarity from going into full drama queen mode.
"Oh Twilight you have to wake up my precious Sweetie Bell! What if she stays asleep like this forever! What if I have to care for her by bed side the rest of her days? Never to play, never to sing again! Oh of all the things that could have happened, this is the worst! Possible! Thing!" Her horn lit up with magic as a red couch slid into the room, bowling over several sleeping ponies in the process. Rarity collapsing onto it still holding her little sister like a stuffed toy. "Oh why, WHY! Why did this have to happen to her! How could fate be so cruel! HOW... is that Tom?" She blinked looking past her couch at the large, chained up boulder. Twilight however wasn't giving any of that a thought as she read, Fluttershy approaching her from the side.
"Twilight, has anypony woken up yet on their own?" The butter yellow pegasus inquired and got a fearful whine in response, Twilight looking like a more sane and aware freaked-out pony this time around.
"Nopony has! Not a pony here has even shown a sign they were coming out of the spell! Plus I chained them all up so if somepony had they would have spoken up to me before they could get free." She was flipping through multiple books with her magic now, trying to find something that would help. "If I can find a group Dispel in one of these books then maybe I can get everypony with one shot, then it's just..."
"DONE!" The girls all shrieked in surprise when the new voice shouted out amongst the crowd of ponies. Fluttershy hid behind Rainbow Dash and Pinkie leaped into Applejack's hoofs, hugging onto her neck. Rarity had currently gone from cradling her sister to holding her up as a shield in front of herself at the new noise. When they all calmed down they noticed the opened, unusual eyes of the voice's owner.
"Ditzy Doo?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed at the wall-eyed pony who was looking around her new setting and realizing it was very different from where she'd been before Twilight's forced nap. Spreading her grey pegasus wings out she knocked over several ponies like dominoes and rustled her blond mane. Smiling happily she spotted the door.
"Muffins!" Taking a step forward Ditzy heard the jingle of metal and looked down at her back hoof, seeing she was chained to the floor.
"Oh, the shackles!" Twilight realized out loud. "I'm sorry, let me just..." In a moment the grey pegasus craned her head down and there was an audible snap, walking forward the shackle laid on the ground behind her having been unlocked. Twilight stared at it in disbelief. "How did she unlock a magic chain... that shouldn't be possible!" Ditzy had already reached the door and was opening it into the early evening before Twilight ran up behind her. "Ditzy, wait!" The grey pegasus stopped and craned her head back, looking at Twilight with that confused expression she sometimes wore. "Listen Ditzy I... first I'm so sorry! I wasn't really thinking straight at the time I put you under the Mind Delve but I just have to ask; what did you see?" Ditzy turned her whole body around now to face the mares, her face slightly less confused now but it was hard to tell with those eyes. "Or if you can't tell me what you saw, please tell me what you learned. Anything will be alright but... I know I don't deserve any answers." The pegasus looked over the six mares as they watched her anxiously to see how she might respond. Ditzy just smiled at them reassuringly.
"Okay Twilight, I'll tell you. But I'll have to leave soon, I have to make dinner for Dinky and myself." Twilight couldn't even hide her smile, amazed that for the first time somepony would educate her about something to do with the Mind Delve. "I learned about a lot of things Twilight, things I knew but things that I should never forget. Things that are important. Not things like what kind of saddle you own or how big your house is or even how nice an oven you have for making muffins. Not even muffins themselves!" The words were so dramatic that Ditzy Doo earned an 'oooooh' from Pinkie in the background. "No, I learned that there's only a few things that are truly important. Like when a friend helps you with a chore, or when you give somepony a present and feel their happiness that they got a gift. Or just spending time with your friends. Or even getting a hug from your little foal just because." Ditzy's smile was so infectious with her words that it began to spread to the others, each of the mares smiling along with her. Rarity was hugging Sweetie Bell (who was still unconscious) and Rainbow Dash was cuddling up against Fluttershy as they listened to the mailmare share her wisdom. "This world has lots of things Twilight, but the best thing is the one you can't touch. Kindness and friendship, and love especially." It didn't really tell Twilight anything but... maybe that didn't matter. Ditzy Doo was okay and wasn't that what was really important? "Well Ditzy, I think that maybe that was the best lesson I could have gotten out of everything that's happened today." Twilight said in appreciation, feeling a little warmer and calmer in her heart. "Thank you."
"Oh I'm not done!" She stated happily and perked up everypony's attention again. "I saw other things while I was there too. Like when I was allowed to view through the gaping maw of the elder one that chews at the core of the universe, witnessing the lie that is our existence. The horrible truth that we're all just figments of their imagination, created through the dreaming of infinite darkness. When the incomprehensible ones stir, our "world" will began to know fear that which no mortal has ever felt. Crushing in upon itself and freezing us in an 'un-time' where the dead cannot die and the living cannot live." She imparted each word with the same happiness that her previous speech had roused emotions in them with. "It will be then that the Great One Cthulhu shall rip through the fantasy that is our knowledge of the world around us, tearing a rip in space and imparting his alien understanding onto ponykind. Creating a world where you cannot say there are survivors, for those that live shall not be called anything more than Apostles to the Doom."
Ditzy had managed to gain just as much reaction with the second half of her speech, although at a different tone. This time around Rainbow Dash had taken to hiding behind Fluttershy, while Applejack had jumped into Pinkie's front legs during the half way mark and was clinging to her neck for dear life. Rarity had at some point made a makeshift barricade out of Tom and her couch, taking refuge with her sister. Twilight for her credit managed to stay her ground, just looking into the off center eyes that were the window to the mailmare's soul, swearing that she saw them slowly spinning. "Well... that was... very... enlightening?"
"I'm gonna get a blueberry muffin!" Ditzy Doo waved to her fellow townsfolk as she exited the building and closed the door behind her. Twilight and the others stared at the closed door for a short while trying to comprehend everything that had happened.
"Hey Twilight." Pinkie spoke up. "Maybe you should wake everypony else before they wake up on their own."
"Good call! Need books and I need 'em now!" The mares scrambled the rest of the night to rouse the rest of the town from their forced sleep, Twilight having left that day with a few more lessons than she'd planned on when she set off this morning.