• Published 4th Sep 2014
  • 1,799 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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III: Help and Advice.

Chapter III: Help and Advice.

The first thing anypony will tell you about the Everfree Forest, apart from the fact that it's big, creepy and you should never, ever go into it, is the fact that alone amongst all the wildlife and plantlife of Equestria, the Everfree Forest was entirely self sustaining. Within it's borders, animals took care of themselves, the weather did it's own thing, the trees grew when they wanted, the plants grew where they wanted... it was, to the organised minds of civilised ponies, pure chaos. Entering it was like entering a strange alien vista that is so completely beyond your normal life experience that frankly, it's like reading Ancient Zebrafrican to an Equestrian mouse. Even if you were somehow able to teach the mouse to understand Equestrian (and some ponies did manage it), it's still Ancient Zebrafrican and thus pretty impressively not-translatable, and even if it was translatable, why would you be reading an ancient language to a mouse anyway, when all it wanted was the cheese?

Nonetheless, Lyra Heartstrings pressed on with something resembling the manic cheer of a pony who knows, somewhere deep in their soul, that they are doing what is Right, capital letter and all. For her, this intimidating, alien forest that defied the laws of nature as she knew them was not something to be feared - it was merely the first step to her culminating a journey that had taken her from being a socially awkward filly in Canterlot to the mare she was today. The fact that she was a socially awkward mare from Ponyville, not altogether that different from her previous station in life, did nothing to dissuade her from the fact that This Was Her Destiny Calling (again, capital letters and all).

Bon Bon was altogether less sanguine about the whole affair. For her, this place and it's alien, unforgiving and downright unnatural nature was... well, alien, unforgiving and downright unnatural. It was worse for being an Earth Pony: her kind normally understood the measure of things of this sort, plant life et al, and even she, a pony whose special talents lay far from farm work and nature, could still appreciate it's beauty. That being said, this place was a complete anathema to her. Nothing here worked the way nature was supposed to! It was all... all so wrong! Added to that was the fact that yes, it was a big, creepy forest that everypony she had known for years and years insisted was Not A Good Place To Visit, and she was feeling that every step of the way, down to her very core.

A sudden noise from somewhere deep in the forest caused her to jump at least a foot in the air. Lyra turned to look at her friend, and grinned when she saw her panicking.

"What was that?!" Bon Bon yelped, looking around frantically.

"I'm sure it was nothing," Lyra said with a soft smile. "Come on Bon Bon, we're making good time!"

"How can you tell?!" Bon Bon asked, looking around the forest. To her, everything in this accursed forest looked the same. "I can't even tell which way we're going! How in Celestia's name are we going to stop ourselves getting lost?!"

"Because I've got a compass," Lyra said brightly. As if to prove her point, she got her compass out, before staring at it thoughtfully. "Hmmm. We've been going a little further south-east than I wanted to go, but that's ok, we'll get there eventually."

"Uh huh," Bon Bon said, nodding slowly, a frown on her face. She had already been vaguely certain that Lyra really didn't know what she was doing, but this just confirmed it, and it didn't exactly make her feel happy knowing she had been right. "Look, I hate to suggest it, but maybe we should go back, pack more stuff, maybe take a train at least as far as the Crystal Mountains..."

"Don't be silly, Bon Bon, we're halfway through the forest by now," Lyra said chirpily. "We'll be there in no time at this rate."

Considering the fact that Celestia's sun was already lowering in the sky, this was something of an optimistic appraisal of the situation. Nevertheless, Bon Bon didn't call Lyra out on it, she only sighed and kept on following her friend.

"Anyway," Lyra continued with a grin, turning round to look at Bon Bon as she walked. "If we keep going this way, I'm sure we'll come across a way out of the forest in a momen -"

She was cut off by the fact that she had suddenly, quite by accident, stepped over the steep edge of a cliff and begun a plummet toward the ground

"Lyra!" Bon Bon yelled in shock. She ran up to the edge of the cliff, looking down to see where her friend had gone. Suddenly, however, she felt a hoof on her shoulder, and she turned to find herself facing a figure shrouded in shadow.

"One hundred and twenty nine feet, seven inches," the figure said ominously.

***

Lyra was, for a brief moment, rather accepting of the fact that she was probably going to die, albeit very indignant that her death was going to be right before she got to go meet humans. She closed her eyes as soon as she started falling, not wanting to see her imminent death up close. After a moment of falling and a sudden jolt that she was sure was her own demise, however, she was suddenly struck by the fact that she was still conscious, something that would probably not be possible had she ended up a rather unpleasant stain at the foot of the cliff.

She opened her eyes, and found herself staring at a cheerful pair of golden eyes that were just slightly off-kilter with one another,

"Hi!" spoke the cheerful voice of Ditzy Doo, colloquially known as Derpy. She was a Pegasus pony with a grey coat and blonde mane, with bubbles for a cutie mark. "Are you ok?"

"Uh..." Lyra said, looking down. She was about a foot off the ground, but Ditzy had managed to somehow catch her. "I'm not dead at the bottom of a canyon. So yes."

"You're lucky," came a swirly prim male voice. "That fall was precisely one hundred and twenty nine feet, seven inches. If Ditzy had been only one point four seconds later, you would have impacted the ground - and the speed you were falling, which was roughly four feet a second, would have seen you pretty messed up, I'll tell you that."

Lyra turned, to see Bon Bon and a stallion with a brown coat and darker brown mane descending the cliff face via a small rock path. Bon Bon looked worried, and the stallion looked... blasé.

"Um..." Lyra repeated, but before she could do anything, Bon Bon was hugging her.

"Don't ever scare me like that again!" her friend practically yelled in her ear. "I knew this was a bad idea! We should go home right this minute!"

"It's fine, Bon Bon," Lyra said, trying to placate her friend. "I'm fine. Ditzy saved me."

"It's ok," Ditzy said, smiling brightly. "I'd do the same for anypony."

"We were passing through anyway," the stallion said. "This little sojourn has only taken us four hundred and twenty six steps off of our initial course, we should be there in..."

"Turner?" Ditzy said, without missing a beat.

"Yes?" the stallion asked.

"You're doing it again," Ditzy said.

"Oh," 'Turner' said, looking faintly sheepish. "Sorry."

Ditzy smiled again, before looking back at the others, both of whom looked vaguely puzzled by this strange stallion's behaviour.

"Time Turner likes keeping track of things," she said by way of explanation.

"We noticed," Bon Bon muttered. Lyra nudged her and frowned at her.

"What are you guys doing in the Everfree forest, anyway?" Ditzy asked them.

"Apparently we're nearly killing ourselves," Bon Bon said sarcastically.

"We're going on an adventure," Lyra said proudly, ignoring Bon Bon's comment. "We're off to meet humans!"

"Humans?" Ditzy said, frowning in confusion. "I think I heard of them once. Aren't they only a fairytale?"

"They occasionally pop up in mythology," Time Turner said absently. "I've read about twenty one instances in twelve separate books featuring them. Usually, they're considered only a myth."

"They're not just a myth," Lyra insisted, looking from Turner to Ditzy. "They're real, and we're off to go meet them."

"Sounds like fun!" Ditzy said brightly, smiling warmly. "We're only here to deliver a package to Zecora."

"Which way is Zecora's from here?" Lyra asked. "We could walk with you for a little while."

"About nine hundred and thirty seven steps in a north easterly direction from this location," Time Turner said. "Give or take, and not accounting for different stride length and paces."

"Thanks," Bon Bon said. "Lyra, don't you think we should maybe think of a different way to go where we're going? Like, for example, the train?"

"Don't be silly, we're so far into the forest now!" Lyra said, smiling. "Besides which, I'm sure Zecora would be able to give us brilliant advice! And it's in the north easterly direction I said we should be going in, too!"

Bon Bon sighed and shook her head, but shrugged in defeat all the same. "Fine. Come on then, let's get going."

"Follow me!" Ditzy said brightly. She began a slow flap to get to where she was going. Beneath her trotted Time Turner, who seemed to keep a brisk pace, muttering under his breath every so often. Lyra and Bon Bon kept up, Lyra looking - if anything - more cheerful than she had before she had fallen off a cliff. Bon Bon couldn't help but think that this was all a mistake, but she supposed she was committed now.

***

When the four of them reached Zecora's little hut a short while later, the Zebra was there waiting for them.

Zebras, in case you weren't aware, normally lived in Zebrafrica, and Zecora was one of only a scant handful of her kind in Equestria, something that had caused a certain amount of tension initially for her (ponies being a very insular sort of folk who don't really know, as a rule, all that much about the world beyond their borders). Fortunately, that had been a few years ago, and these days she was well regarded by the ponies of Ponyville, though she still preferred to live in the Everfree forest, saying it reminded her of her home.

"Ah, Ditzy, there you are. I hope this delivery wasn't too far," she said, smiling at the mail mare. It was her habit to speak in rhyme, though whether that was cultural to the Zebras or her own unique quirk nopony knew for certain.

"Not at all, Zecora," Ditzy said happily, giving the Zebra a small package. "I had Time Turner helping me keep track after all."

"Three thousand one hundred and nineteen steps, including detour," Time Turner said absently, investigating a small flower while his friend spoke with Zecora. "Not so far, not so far."

Zecora, after a moment looking puzzled, shrugged and ignored the odd pony, turning her attention to Lyra and Bon Bon. "Who are these others you've brought with you? Were they helping with the delivery too?"

"Oh no, this is Lyra and Bon Bon," Ditzy said with a smile. "We ran into them along the way."

"We're off on an adventure!" Lyra said with a grin.

Zecora raised an eyebrow at this. "An adventure, you say? Along what way?"

"They say they're off to go meet humans, whatever they are," Ditzy explained. Lyra nodded eagerly, and Bon Bon, with a rather tired expression on her face, also nodded. Zecora's other eyebrow joined it's fellow somewhere near her hairline.

"Humans?" she repeated, sounding somewhat surprised. "It's a name I've heard before, though those tales are of sorrow and war."

"You've heard of humans?" Lyra asked excitedly. She was surprised - not many ponies had even heard the name, and fewer still knew what it was attached to. Bon Bon caught the reference to sorrow and war, but chose not to speak up.

"During the Zebrafrican wars with the horses, it is said that our foes were helped by human forces," Zecora explained, "but that was an age or more ago, a time long past that was full of woe."

"So they are real?" Bon Bon asked, sounding sceptical. Zecora shrugged.

"All of those wars are ancient history, so the truth of the matter is quite a mystery," she said. She frowned and looked at Lyra. "Why do you seek them with such zeal, when you do not know if they might be real?"

"Because they are!" Lyra said, grinning. "I have a map and everything!"

As if to prove her point, she pulled out the small map and showed it to Zecora. The shaman looked the map over, raising an eyebrow again.

"This map is old," she said, sounding vaguely concerned, "and clearly used, but are you sure your trust was not abused? There could be deceit behind this scroll, and if that is so you will pay the toll."

Bon Bon rolled her eyes at the somewhat tortured rhyme.

"I'm certain," Lyra said with a grin, apparently not phased by the Zebra's warning.

Zecora shrugged again. "I cannot tell you of these lands, for they are far from my native sands. All I can say is to travel with care, for you don't know what dangers lurk out there."

"Great," Bon Bon said sourly. "Do you at least have a spare water bottle for me?"

Zecora nodded, popped inside, and returned a moment later, passing Bon Bon a water bottle with a smile. Bon Bon returned the smile, happy to at least feel marginally prepared for this trip now.

"Thank you for your advice, Zecora," Lyra said with a smile as Bon Bon put the bottle away. She consulted her compass, and then her map. "But we really do have to be going now."

"A little advice before you leave, so that from some danger you may be reprieved," Zecora said, holding up a hoof. "Take care in the forest at it's deepest point, for it isn't a very happy joint."

"Joint?" Bon Bon muttered. Lyra shushed her.

"There are things down there in the forest deep filled with a malice that does not sleep," Zecora said seriously, ignoring the interruption. "Be ever cautious and wary friends, or you will meet a sticky end."

"Thank you, Zecora," Lyra said, smiling. "Well. Goodbye everypony!"

Without another word, she took out her compass and headed off, walking past Zecora's hut and off into the depths of the forest, keeping her compass in front of her the whole way. Bon Bon, a sigh escaping her lips, followed her, waving back at the others as she walked off.

Ditzy, for her part, watched them go with a thoughtful frown on her face. Once they were out of sight, she turned to Zecora.

"Is it really dangerous?" she asked, worry in her tone.

"Their path through these woods is fraught with peril, for there are many creatures that are quite feral," Zecora replied. "Beyond the woods I cannot say, but I fear danger still lies in their way."

Ditzy looked as though she was wrestling with something for a long moment. She turned to Time Turner.

"Do you want to go on an adventure?" she asked.

"Long journeys are good for the soul," Time Turner said absently. "Less good for the hooves, but good for the soul."

"I'll take that as a yes," Ditzy said. She looked back at Zecora. "I don't suppose you have some spare saddlebags?"

***

Author's Note:

Hello everyone. Just wanted to say a big thank you for all the kind comments. A big thank you to everyone who's favourited as well. :-)

You might have noticed that I have an... interesting interpretation of Time Turner in this story. Rather than go for Doctor Whooves, I wanted to go for a pony with entirely different quirks. His obsession with numbers seemed logical.

Thanks for reading.

Jed.

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