• Published 4th Sep 2014
  • 1,800 Views, 34 Comments

The Humans. - Jed R



Lyra Heartstrings knows humans exist, and she's going to prove it, no matter how long it takes.

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I: An Unexpected Parley (Or Two).

Chapter I: An Unexpected Parley (Or Two).

In a house, on a street in a small town beneath a mountain range, there lived a pony. Not a boring, secluded little village filled with odd looks and unpleasant locals, nor a big town that was really just a small city, filled with bustling locals with no time to stop and smell the roses. This town was just right: the locals were a fun, friendly bunch (albeit occasionally quite mad, though this is often the best way to be), the town was large enough to remain interesting, and the roses smelled lovely, and plenty of ponies had plenty of time to stop and smell them. This town was called Ponyville, which was both apt (since it was a place where ponies lived) and somewhat dull and unimaginative. When visiting Ponyville, one is usually taken aback with just how not-dull the place actually is, most likely because one is lulled into a false sense of security by the name. It is to the credit of the ponies who live there - and sometimes to their detriment as well - that they have managed to make what could have proven an exceptionally dull town into a place where it can be said with the fullest confidence that Interesting Things Happen.

The particular pony with whom we are concerned was one Lyra Heartstrings, a pony - more specifically a Unicorn - of turquoise coloration and normally cheerful disposition. In Ponyville, it is to be admitted, she was not normally one to whom Interesting Things Happened (an unfortunate incident at her former foalsitter's wedding, involving brainwashing and green glowing eyes, aside). This was not necessarily for lack of trying on her part but, when one is not an Alicorn princess and her five best friends, one is naturally less likely to attract the Interesting Things than such individuals. This, however, is a story in which Interesting Things happen to Lyra Heartstrings, things which change her life - in some ways for the worse, but mostly for the better, as you will see.

On this fine day in Ponyville, Lyra Heartstrings was in the middle of having a loud, raging argument in the street. Now, had you asked Lyra Heartstrings that morning whether she would be having a loud, raging argument with anypony - much less Bon Bon, a beige Earth Pony who was also her friend and housemate, and much less in the street where everypony passing by could watch with impunity - she would have said no. But then, Lyra was never particularly good at being able to tell what was going to happen at any given day, both because she was not clairvoyant (few ponies were or are, especially in Ponyville, which is probably good for their stress levels given how many frankly odd things that occur there on a semi regular basis), and because her head was normally so "in the clouds" that she couldn't tell the future if she was given an encyclopedia about it.

The day had started well enough for her, I suppose you could say. She had woken up, checked the bookmark in one of her cryptozoology books that she had fallen asleep reading hadn't fallen out, saved her page, made herself breakfast (while reading a different cryptozoology book), and then proceeded to go out for a brief shop. You may glean from her choice of reading material that Lyra Heartstrings was into crypotozoology. Specifically, she was an aficionado of Humans, a semi-mythical species that very ponies knew (or cared to know) all that much about. Ever since she had been very young, Lyra had known about humans and wished to know more. Suffice it to say, this was not a hobby approved of by her parents, teachers, classmates, friends, colleagues, romantic interests, or anypony else with anything resembling a vague awareness of it. The more charitable of these various groups would dismiss it as a harmless,if vaguely irritating, line of research that was one of Lyra's quirks, without which she would not be Lyra. The less charitable usually insulted her, especially ponies among the "romantic interests" group. This may explain why Lyra Heartstrings did not currently have a romantic interest,having given up the practice a long time ago as essentially a lost cause.

Now, as I said, she had chosen following her morning read and breakfast to go out to do some shopping: for Lyra, shopping consisted of buying a cupcake from Sugarcube Corner, a small sweet shop in Ponyville, and then eating said cupcake while reading another book on cryptozoology designated her "outdoor reading material". She had, along the way to Sugarcube Corner, run into Bon Bon, who was (and is), as I have said, her friend and housemate, who had gone out earlier. It was at this time that the screaming, raging argument had begun.

Bon-Bon, being a pony whose mind was resolutely set on those two great concepts, the "Here and Now" and the "Solid and Factual" to such an extent that many ponies considered her one of the most predictable (and therefore reliable) ponies in Ponyville, was not one of those who tended to indulge Lyra's "hobby". Normally, when she was in a good mood, she did her best to avoid the topic of discussion wherever possible, especially considering the fact that she didn't agree with the study of cryptozoology in general. This, however, was one of those times when she was not, in fact, in a good mood.

The argument had begun with Bon Bon approaching Lyra in the street, an altogether thunderous look on her face.

"Oh hey Bon Bon," Lyra had begun.

"Don't you 'oh hey' me!" Bon Bon replied. "I saw the mess you left in the front room!"

"Mess?" Lyra asked, frowning, seemingly completely oblivious to what Bon Bon was referring to.

"Yes, mess!" the irritated Earth Pony said. "As in those papers you left scattered about!"

Full memory returned to Lyra at this point, and a disappointed and irritated tone infiltrated her voice. "Oh, you didn't move them did you?!"

"Of course I moved them!" Bon Bon yelled, her face turning a slightly ominous shade of red. "There were taking up all the floor!"

"Well, at least you put them away, yeah?" Lyra asked, now getting mildly miffed herself,

"I put them in the trash where they belonged!" Bon Bon screeched. "I thought I told you to keep your stuff out of the front room and in your bedroom where it belongs!"

"You threw the papers out?!" Lyra yelled, sounding more than a little furious herself now. "Do you have idea how long that mindmap took to do?!"

"I don't care, it shouldn't have been in the front room in the first place!" Bon Bon yelled.

"Do you have any idea how long that stuff took to collate?" Lyra said, now sounding agitated and upset. "Any idea how long it took to..."

"It was covering the entire front room!" Bon Bon yelled. "You cannot seriously be telling me that..."

"It was important to my research!" Lyra snapped.

"Oh, your 'research'," Bon Bon said. "You mean your research into things that don't exist?!"

"They do exist!" Lyra yelled, her rage building to a point where it matched Bon Bon's.

For the next few minutes, the two of them exchanged various admonishments - Bon Bon infuriated by her housemate's messiness and Lyra angered that her work had been so casually dismissed and discarded. Eventually, Lyra, altogether frustrated and not a little upset about her work being destroyed, left, tears trailing down her face, leaving Bon Bon yelling after her. The beige pony blinked in shock at Lyra running off in tears, but decided to leave her to it: she was probably the last pony her friend wanted to see.

***

Sat alone in a far corner of Ponyville, crying softly to herself, Lyra reflected bitterly that she must have cut quite a pitiful figure. After all: she was sat here, crying about a bunch of papers. Except, to her they hadn't just been a bunch of papers, they had been something far more important: the culmination of years and years of research into humans. The mindmap had been her attempt to collate all the dissonant accounts of humanity present throughout her researches. Everything from myths of heroes and monsters to legends of upright creatures stalking the night to crazy rumours of creatures in mountains and forests, all jotted down and collected in one place so that she could attempt, somehow, to make sense of it all. From the mindmap, she had begun seeking out commonalities, things that corresponded, dismissing the things that did not. Unfortunately, this had proved to be something of a dead end as far as her research went, as the only obvious commonality was a rough description of their physical appearance - roughly five to six feet tall, standing on two legs like minotaurs - and to a certain extent their location, usually described as somewhere North. Unfortunately, that was hotly disputed by other cryptozoologists: some claimed they were found in the south, some in the east. North might have been the most common, but no one was certain of one, single defining location.

Lyra sighed and cursed softly under her breath. She guessed it was a hopeless cause to seek out some way she might ever meet a human - even find something proving they existed. Still, it was her cause.

"You alright there, luv?" a voice cut in, startling her. She looked up, to see a griffon staring at her with a quizzical frown. He had light brown feathers with tinged of grey, and warm brown eyes. Behind him he tugged a cart, laden with various odds and ends.

"Hello," she said. "Just thinking to myself."

"Sorry to butt in on ya," the Griffon said, his accent vaguely reminiscent of a Trottingham accent, but with an odd tinge. "Grendel is my name. I'm a trader by trade. Ha, trader by trade," he chuckled softly to himself. "Anyway, I'm in the business of trading my wares to any that'll take 'em, and wondered if you might be seeking anything?"

"What do you have?" Lyra asked, looking at the cart.

"Oh, odds, ends, trinkets," the Griffon said. "Nothing overly impressive, I must say, but times are hard for travelling types like meself."

"Oh, really?" Lyra asked, nodding. Truth be told, she wasn't sure she was interested, but this was better than going home.

"Oh absolutely," Grendel said, eyes widening with earnestness as he spoke. "Why, I've been from the far reaches of the Griffon Empire to the lands of the Volken themselves, and I've yet to find me fortune. Still seeking it though. Thought Equestria might have more opportunity."

"The who?" Lyra asked, frowning. "I don't think I've ever heard of the Volken."

"Not surprised, few folks have," Grendel said with a shrug. "They're a pretty odd lot, all things considered. Live in the far north east, past the furthest edges of the Griffon Empire. Even past the lands of the deer and the horses, up in the Great Plains." The Griffon went over to his cart and began rummaging through his wares, as though searching for something. "Course," he added as he searched, "their right name isn't really the Volken. That's the country name, not the name of the species, and I've always heard there's more countries further up. Kinda like calling ponies Equestrians. No, I think they're called... ah!" He came up from the cart, clutching something in a talon. He tossed it over to Lyra. "That's what they look like."

Using her horn, Lyra caught the small object. She floated it in front of her face, frowning, and then her eyes widened. It was small, tatty, but was recognisable as a little ragdoll: a doll positioned to stand on two legs, with two arms and a sort of mane on it's head.

"This is a human..." she whispered more to herself. A massive smile broke out on her face.

"Aye, I reckon that's what they called themselves, though it's been a while since I went that way," Grendel said, grinning slightly as well, not quite realising just how happy he had made Lyra. Suddenly, she turned and hugged him.

"Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!" she yelled quickly.

"You're, uh, welcome," he said, eyes wide. "Happy to help!"

Lyra pulled away from him. "I don't suppose you have a map with the route to their lands on you?!"

"A... map?" Grendel said, frowning. "Hang on."

He went back to the cart, rummaging again. As he did so, Lyra had to struggle not to hyperventilate. This was it: proof of humans! Proof that they existed! And more than that, they had a culture! Some cryptozoologists had theorised that they weren't particularly intelligent - oh, how this would prove them wrong!

"Here we are!" Grendel said after a moment, pulling up with small, tattered scroll.

"How much?!" Lyra asked immediately.

It is to the credit of Grendel the Griffon Trader that he didn't immediately consider flogging the map for more than it's worth. It would be crediting him too much to suggest that the thought didn't cross his mind, but despite being rather mercenary (and hard up, despite being so well travelled), he was at heart a fairly honest soul who wouldn't hurt the metaphorical fly.

"Five bits," he said after a moment. "Tell you what, I'll throw the doll in too."

Immediately, Lyra rummaged in her saddlebag for the required bits and gave them to the Griffon, who cheerfully pocketed them and handed her the map and the doll.

"Pleasure doing business with you," he said after a moment. "But I'd best be off. Trading to do elsewhere, after all."

"Yes, I'm sorry to keep you!" Lyra said quickly, turning towards home herself. "And thank you!"

Without another word, she ran off, leaving Grendel the trader to shake his head and ponder what all the fuss was about.

Had Grendel the trader realised quite what he had unleashed, or catalysed, or begun, he might have demanded more money for the map. Nonetheless, he felt, rather reasonably, that five bits was five bits, and in future he would look back on this moment and decide that the five bits was better than no bits at all.

***

Author's Note:

Welcome to another piece of randomness from my mind.

So: this is based on an idea by my friend Isaac (RoyalPsycho) about a human society in the same world as Equestria. Taking that as my beginning, I've started this: currently feels part Tolkienesque fantasy and part Douglas Adams-esque farce from where I'm sitting. Make of that what you will. I'm mainly writing this story for my daughter, to whom I will read this thing once she's a little older. It's gonna be very sporadic in it's updates - not least because I'm still focusing my pony-attention quota on Avatar of Albion - but I'll do my best.

Enjoy the read.

Jed.

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