Twilight had made her journey through the Everfree Forest to meet with a particular friend of hers, Zecora. Knowing well she had awaited this day since long ago, Twilight was quick to pass over the parcel she had carefully wrapped that morning. The label read: 'Happy Birthday, Zecora!'
"What is that book, anyway?" Twilight asked.
"It is a journal, Twilight. A record of travellers going left and right," Zecora explained and opened to a late page.
"Aren't you going to read from the start?"
"I will get to that eventually, but it is the stories of Jua that interest me."
"Some famous zebra?"
"Yes, and we share the same roots. To read his stories is to feel home with the drinks and fruits," Zecora said and looked rather homesick.
"Could you read it to me?" Twilight asked eagerly.
"Of course I can, but I would not be able to rhyme. To do that I would need more time."
"That's fine though, right? I mean, sure, you're breaking a habit, but I'd love to hear something from your people, Zecora!"
"Then drink your tea and I will begin. Even I don't know what stories are written within!"
"Stop him! He's getting away!" the curator yelled.
The study had been razed to the ground and the floor was covered in books and papers. One of the ponies, a unicorn, had to be pulled out from under a large bookcase before every pony was accounted for.
"We're not chasing after that thing, curator. He tried to knife my face with that shiv he was holding!" a night watch protested.
"He'll wreak untold havoc if you leave him! Go after him now!" the curator ordered again.
The window swung open and a dark pegasus hovered outside the window.
"He's left the mews! We've lost him for sure!" the pegasus exclaimed in panic.
"Fly after him, then, you idiot!" the curator scolded.
"Forget it! The specimen just mashed Errantworth's head with his voice alone!"
"Where is - what!?"
The pegasus led the group up the road to an alleyway where, in the centre of a circle of fissured cobblestone, a dead stallion lay. The pegasus prodded Errantworth's head and recoiled in repulsion from the texture.
"Wow, we kept that thing tucked in Poncey's basement..." a stallion remarked.
The feminine stallion named Poncey swallowed and visibly shivered. He had shared house with such a destructive creature.
"Surprised he didn't just kill you these last three weeks," the stallion finished.
"Shut up, we have a new matter on our hooves. A monster is on the run and he definitely does not trust ponies any more," the curator began, "each of you must go on as if this never happened. Poncey, I need you to process those fishing reports as your new priority. You must look like you've been busy crunching those numbers for the Fisher's Guild or the dogs will wonder what's keeping you."
"Uh, yeah, sure," Poncey whimpered.
"Map Wright, you must move that meeting with the Canterboroughs to the evening so I can have the other stallions clear this mess."
"Can do," the unicorn, Map Wright, replied.
"What of us?" the pegasus asked.
"You'll fly with the others. If not catching the specimen, at least monitor his movements."
"I hate this," the pegasus complained.
"What is the plan?" a stallion asked.
"Find the specimen, and then kill him," the curator said and walked away from the group. "Oh, and get rid of the body. Errantworth's dealings with us should be unknown to others. Better he disappears than turn up dead."
"Kill... him?" Poncey asked.
"He's no good to us alive if he's that dangerous," the curator informed, "we wash our hooves and move on before an investigation begins."
"Uh, Map Wright," one of the stallions started, "you've lost your horn..."
"I don't know, a bipedal creature like that doesn't sound like such a big deal," Twilight said as she toyed with her hooves, laying on her back on a pillow.
"It is quite strange for me too, Jua definitely saw minotaurs before me and you," Zecora said in agreement, "now this creature has him puzzled like this. I wonder what this creature is."
"Aw, come on, he really didn't go into detail. What did they look like now again?"
"'On two legs, the tree is alive. It walks nimble as a cat when it fights. The animals heeds its will, the others - its enemies - it hunts down and kill'" Zecora translated and tilted her head in disbelief.
"What did you say?" Twilight asked.
"It controls the animals around it and dispatches of its foes. This is a creature of darkness and woes!"
"Did he draw it, at least?"
Zecora held a page over to Twilight who inspected the illustrations intently.
"He drew himself for size to compare. To measure yourself to them must have been quite a dare," Zecora said.
Much right, the tree-like creature was almost three times his height, but drawn slim as a rod, with spindly limbs.
"Looks a lot like a tree, yeah. An ent? A tree spirit?" Twilight suggested.
"An animate tree with a will so ill? I shirk at the thought such a creature could lurk here still." Zecora skimmed through the next few pages. "Oh, ho ho, how foolish of me, this creature lives across the sea!" she laughed in relief.
"Two weeks or three north-east of here, near a distinct mountain range that 'seems to stretch forever'" Zecora replied and placed the book upon the table, revealing a sketched map. Equestria was marked on it.
"How come no pony has found that land yet? It looks so close!" Twilight asked sceptically.
"'Each aspect of this land and the journey to it is worthy of its own book' it says," Zecora replied and shrugged.
"Give me the short version, Zecora, this is getting to a 'made-up' level of craziness," Twilight laughed.
Zecora hastily glanced through each page before giving a versed summary: "In a land where no ponies dwell, a mighty tree-walker treads instead, and slaves the animals below and above the height of its head. Is that not swell?"
The two ponies laughed together and finished their tea. Either they were both in denial or convinced the story was fabricated. The assurance that there was at least two weeks of ocean separating these two lands helped relieve tension, as these two lands had not clashed yet, so chances are they would not either in the near future. Twilight bid her goodbyes and gave Zecora the usual goodbye hug before departing. Zecora would have many more stories to read, though, and Twilight had her plans to return to her library and forget about this creature altogether.
"Twilight," Zecora called from her home.
"You too do not believe in this creature, right?"
"Of course not! The story has too many convenient excuses for previous encounters to not have occurred. Jua must have written this story for lack of better options."
Zecora waved as Twilight cantered off into the woods.