• Published 4th Sep 2014
  • 1,798 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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IV: Four is Company.

Chapter IV: Four is Company.

It was getting dark in the Everfree Forest as Lyra and Bon Bon continued their journey. The sun had descended some time ago, making way for Luna's moon, a pale orb that hung in the sky and cast a soft light across the world. While it was beautiful, making the sky glow a sort of deep blue, it entirely failed to drive back the shadows of night, which cast their eerie darkness across the forest - and the two ponies.

Bon Bon had asked Lyra whether the two of them should go to sleep soon, but the unicorn had been of the opinion that this wasn't necessary yet - "we can at least make another two or three hours!" Bon Bon, reluctantly, had agreed, more because she didn't really have a choice.

As they walked, the beige Earth Pony couldn't help but wonder whether they were really safe in these woods. Zecora had spoken about "malice that does not sleep," and though Bon Bon was fairly certain there had been some wrangling on the Zebra shaman's part in order to make a tortured rhyme out of her words, she was still concerned that they might run into something unfortunate while they were in this forest - timberwolves, goblins, diamond dogs... there could have been any number of horrid things just waiting to ambush them and - well, she didn't really want to think about it.

Still, Lyra seemed remarkably unconcerned by any of the possible dangers they could possibly encounter. Her single mindedness with regards to meeting humans was almost remarkable, and Bon Bon had to wonder what brilliant achievements Lyra might have been able to make if she hadn't been wasting her energy on something as foolhardy as this. All the same, her optimism - nay, her sheer blunt enthusiasm - was getting quickly tiresome.

"We're making good time!" she would frequently say at utterly random intervals, with or without Bon Bon's prompting. "We'll be there in no time!"

Bon Bon would inevitably sigh at this, and ruminate on exactly how silly and impulsive her friend was being about this whole thing. Had she planned this out a little before setting off, she might have been halfway there by train by now. More importantly, she might have been able to go without dragging Bon Bon along with her.

It wasn't that Bon Bon didn't want to be here, supporting her friend. On the contrary, she felt being here was the best of the available options she had. She just wished Lyra had taken a course of action that had left her more options, like the train, a Zeppelin... indeed anything other than walking through this accursed forest and halfway across Equestria.

She was distracted from these ruminations by a rustling that she heard coming from behind them. She turned around, looking to see if there was anything following, but could see nothing. She frowned, and turned back to the path. A moment later, another rustle sounded, slightly louder, and Bon Bon turned again.

"Lyra!" she said sharply, trying to keep her voice low. "I think something's following us!"

Lyra, to her credit, turned around and looked in the same direction as Bon Bon instead of just ignoring her. For a moment, they waited, but there were no more noises.

"Might have been a wild animal passing nearby," Lyra postulated quietly, peering into the dark wood. "I don't think it's anything to worry about."

Another rustle caught their attention, and Lyra and Bon Bon's ears picked up. Bon Bon's eyes widened in horror, and Lyra gulped, the cheerful expression on her face falling away for the first time since this trip had begun

"You were saying?" Bon Bon whispered, terrified.

A moment later, two dark shapes emerged from the foliage. Bon Bon screamed and covered her eyes with her forehooves for a moment, fearing that she was about to devoured by some terrible monster... and then she heard a familiar voice.

"You've come an extra one thousand, three hundred and six steps since Zecora's. That's actually pretty impressive."

She uncovered her eyes, and found herself looking, slack jawed, at the smiling faces of Ditzy Doo and Time Turner. The two of them had their own, somewhat bulky saddlebags on, and looked as though they had been walking for some time, judging from the slightly tired looks they had.

"Hi!" Ditzy said brightly.

"What... how...?!" Bon Bon spluttered, eyes wide with shock.

"What are you two doing here?" Lyra asked, frowning at them. "You're not here to try and stop me, are you?"

"No," Ditzy said with a smile. "We're here to join you!"

"What?!" Bon Bon yelped, her voice squeaking slightly.

"We can't let you both go off into the world outside Equestira alone!" Ditzy said, looking oddly serious. "That's just not right. What kind of friends would we be if we did that?"

"Probably the sensible kind," Bon Bon muttered under her breath. "Don't you have a child?"

"Oh, she's staying with her grandparents for the summer," Ditzy said, smiling. "I've asked Zecora to take a message back for us, to let everypony know we're ok."

"But you guys don't have any reason to come see humans," Lyra pointed out, "you didn't even know they existed!"

"Ahem," coughed Time Turner. "I did."

"Ok, but not properly," Lyra corrected herself. "Why would you do this?"

"Friends don't let friends go off alone," Ditzy reiterated, speaking slightly slower. "We're coming with you."

Lyra looked at the two ponies, her head going from one to the other, before a massive grin split her face.

"Thank you!" she yelled hugging the two of them. "I really appreciate this!"

"It'll be nice to have some company on the road," Bon Bon said, slightly grudgingly. Truth be told, she would have preferred it had they come to stop Lyra from going through the wood and convinced her to take a quicker route, or even not go at all, but instead they were simply encouraging her. It reminded her of the old saying: 'who's the more foalish? The foal, or the foal who follows her?'

"In any case, we're quite a way into the forest by now," she added.

"Four thousand, four hundred and twenty five steps," Time Turner interrupted. "Assuming your route was the same as ours, so add in an extra..." He trailed off, seeing the slightly incredulous looks Bon Bon and Ditzy were giving him, a slightl blush creeping into his cheeks. "Sorry. Carry on."

"As I was saying," Bon Bon said, frowning slightly, "don't you think it's time we settled down for the night?"

"Good idea," Lyra said. She immediately walked over to a tree and lay down, closing her eyes. Bon Bon frowned at her expectantly, but Lyra didn't move.

"Didn't you pack a sleeping bag?" she asked after a moment.

Lyra opened an eye somewhat sheepishly. "I... may have forgotten."

"Seriously?" Bon Bon said, now somewhat annoyed. "I mean, I can almost get wanting to walk to wherever we're going, but you didn't even pack a sleeping bag? Tell me you at least packed some money."

"Um..." Lyra said, grinning. Bon Bon groaned.

"Don't worry, guys," Ditzy said, grinning again. She reached inside her saddle bag and threw a few rolled up sleeping bags onto the ground. "Zecora gave us a bunch of stuff!"

Bon Bon laughed out loud, relieved. "Finally! Someone who packed for this trip!"

"Don't you have anything?" Lyra asked her, looking confused.

"I wanted to stop you, remember?" Bon Bon said tiredly. "All I have is two cupcakes I bought us to make up for our argument."

"Ooh! Do you have muffins?" Ditzy asked.

"...no," Bon Bon replied, nonplussed.

"Oh," the grey Pegasus said, sounding disappointed. "Oh well."

"I'm sure we'll be able to buy muffins while we're on the road," Lyra said reasonably, a smile on her face. "But for now, I think it's time everypony went to sleep."

***

If Bon Bon had hoped Ditzy and Time Turner's presence would convince her friend to not go through with her rather ridiculous plan, she was to be sadly disappointed. If anything, Lyra had taken their presence to be a validation of her desire to go on this adventure, and had redoubled her efforts to get through the forest.

After a somewhat uncomfortable night's sleep (Zecora's sleeping bags were pleasant enough but the ground was less so), the company had awakened and immediately set out, barely stopping to eat a somewhat unpleasant breakfast of raw grass and a few harmless wildflowers. Lyra had chatted away with Ditzy about her desire to go meet humans, talking at great length about all the myths, legends and stories she had read.

Time Turner had been mostly silent. He had, shortly after the group had set off, asked to see the map, but all he had said after finishing his perusal of it was "something like one four million, one hundred and forty two thousand, three hundred twenty six steps, if the relative scale is accurate". Upon hearing this, Bon Bon had inwardly groaned - she had no idea what "steps" was in miles, but it certainly sounded like a very long way. Turner, for his part, merely kept muttering numbers to himself, keeping count of seconds or keeping count of steps, or both, Bon Bon couldn't tell.

The forest still stretched on. When asked, neither Ditzy nor Time Turner knew exactly how far - Zecora's hut was the furthest the mail-mare had gone, and Time Turner had never visited even there before now.

"Are we even sure we're still going the right way?" Bon Bon asked.

"North East," Lyra said, glancing at her compass. "We've got to reach the end eventually."

"We will," Turner said, surprising them all.

"How do you know?" Bon Bon asked, trying not to sound too scathing.

"Relative scale," Turner replied, smiling at her. "On the map, the Everfree is approximately ten thousand and thirty steps across, give or . We've traversed about seven and a half thousand. Only two and a half thousand to go!"

"Oh, only," Bon Bon muttered, sighing to herself. "Where are we even going after this?"

"I was thinking we might head for Dodge City," Lyra suggested. "It's directly East, and it's the nearest town. We'll be able to get supplies from there."

"With what money?" Bon Bon asked. "You left without any, remember?"

"I have money," Ditzy put in.

"One hundred twenty one bits," Time Turner supplied helpfully. "More than enough for any supplies we should need for the journey. Prices in Dodge City have been at an all time low due to an economic recession in that part of Equestria."

"Great!" Lyra said, grinning brightly. "We should be all set for getting supplies for the journey then!"

"Wonderful," Bon Bon said, grimacing slightly.

As they progressed, Bon Bon kept her eyes open, ever watchful for any sign of anything untoward. The forest was getting slightly less dense, but that was no reason to get less wary. Eventually though, the trees of the forest gave way to more clearings. For a brief moment, Bon Bon was afraid that they would come across some monster at the edge of the forest, some final barrier that would hinder their way.

They didn't. A moment later, they had reached the other side of the Everfree Forest, and could see less than ten minutes ahead of them (“about nine minutes, fourteen seconds at present rate,” according to Turner) it's far edge.

"Well," Lyra said with a grin as she almost bounced toward the edge. "We've passed the forest. So much for 'malice that does not sleep'."

It was at that point, perhaps predictably, that she fell through the ground.

“Lyra!” Bon Bon yelled, shocked. A moment later, however, she too fell through the floor, and blacked out.

***

When Lyra awoke, she blinked in surprise, finding herself lying on the ground in what must have been a dirty, dusty old cave. There was no light source, and no visible exit.

“Hello?” she called out. “Is somepony here?”

She lit her horn up, and saw to her shock both Time Turner and Bon Bon, both of them apparently unconscious. They - and, to her shock, Lyra as well - were wearing white robes, with silver circlets upon their heads, almost as though they were arrayed for a funeral.

“Guys?” she whispered. “Guys?!”

There was a soft moan from further in the cave, and Lyra turned, eyes wide.

“H-hello?” she whispered softly. “I-is somepony there?”

There was no reply, and Lyra looked around, trying to find something that might prove a good defensive weapon - a rock, or a stick, or…

Jackpot!

A sword of some kind was lying on the ground in a dusty leather scabbard. In a flash, she grabbed it with her magic and drew it, aiming the blade out at the darkness even as she tried shining a light out at it.

“W-whoever’s down there, I-I’m armed,” she stammered, still deathly afraid. She didn’t know why this one cave filled her with such horror, but she found herself barely able to summon the will to fight. “I-I’ll u-use this if I-I have to.”

Why didn’t we listen to Zecora? she thought to herself. There really is stuff we don’t understand out here!

A hiss sounded from deep inside the cave, and Lyra could dimly make out the skeletal figure of what might have been a pony once, but certainly wasn’t anymore.

“What the hay,” she murmured in horror. Was this a zompony or something?

Suddenly, the thing lurched forward, and Lyra, yelping, held up the sword, pointing it straight at the thing. She could make more of it out now - it definitely looked like a pony, armoured in what might have been ancient Royal Guard armour except that it was rusted and pitted. The thing was a skeleton, save for a few scraps of ancient, rotted flesh that stuck to it. Horrified, Lyra stepped back, and the thing took one step forward. It hissed. She held up the sword, and it hissed again, louder.

“S-so you’re s-scared of t-this, huh?” she said, with a stammering bravery she definitely did not feel. She scowled and held up the blade again, and the thing stepped back as though burnt. She figured she could probably hold it off with this, but that still left the question of how to get her unfortunate friends out of here.

Suddenly, a light cracked open behind her. The thing hissed again, and a voice called into the cave.

“Lyra Heartstrings, to your back! Mind yourself should the Wight attack!”

Lyra’s heart skipped a beat - Zecora! She held up the sword and the thing stepped back, hissing again.

“Lyra!” she heard Ditzy’s voice say. “We’ve got the others, back off, come on!”

Taking the advice, Lyra waved the sword once in the creature’s direction, before turning and bolting for the light.

A moment later, she found herself outside in the cool air. It was morning, and the air was damp and misty. She heard the sound of something heavy being slid into place, and turned to find Zecora pushing a boulder over the cave entrance.

“That should seal the thing away, at least until another day,” the Zebra said with a satisfied nod. She turned to Lyra. “You nearly met a sticky end. Are you alright, my pony friend?”

“Yeah,” Lyra said quietly. She looked at the sword. “Wouldn’t have been without this.”

She held it up, and Zecora frowned at it. Examining the blade, Lyra was surprised at its condition - it was shining silver, with an ornate bronze-plated hilt and a single sapphire set into the hilt.

“This is a very ancient blade, and it was not by ponies made,” Zecora said, eyes wide. “This weapon came from far off lands - and, I think, was made for human hands!”

Lyra blinked, before looking at the weapon again. The long, thin hilt certainly didn’t look like a pony-made sword, which ordinarily needed thicker and shorter hilts for mouth-manipulation.

“Human?” she repeated.

“Human,” Zecora said with a nod. “I know little of the mysterious creatures, but in this weapon I recognise the features - the blade is long, the hilt is thin. Much love and craft is set herein.”

Lyra grinned. She heard a groan, and Bon Bon came up to her, rubbing her head.

“What the hay happened?” she asked, frowning blearily. “Zecora? What happened here?”

“You nearly fell prey to a cave-dwelling Wight,” Zecora said. “Without my help, you’d have never seen the light.”

“Thanks,” Bon Bon said. “Well, that’s another time we’ve nearly died, Lyra. Are you willing to give this madness up?”

Zecora looked at Lyra, who was now looking at the blade. Ditzy and a weary and ruffled looking Time Turner also came up to her, questioning looks on their faces.

“No,” Lyra said quietly. “I just found proof of what I’m looking for. I am not giving up now.”

Bon Bon sighed. “Why am I not surprised?”

***

Author's Note:

Boom! i actually updated this thing!

So: I've been absolutely inundated with AOA stuff these past few months - completed the first one, started the sequel and an AU, organised three or four more AU's with other authors - so this has taken a backseat. But this chapter was mostly done and I had a burst of inspiration, so I finished it. hope everybody likes it - it's slightly longer than previous chapters, so it should be up to standard.

I'll work on the next chapter when I have time, AOA notwithstanding.

Cheers.

Jed.

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Comments ( 7 )

A little bit of the Ring too....interesting.

Holy cow, it updated! I thought this fic was dead! I completely forgot about it for a while.

Nevertheless, I'm happy that it updated. I forgot how fantastic the writing is! I eagerly await the next update. :pinkiesmile:

5697344 I don't let fics die if I can help it. This one's suffered from me spending a lot of time on AOA. :-/ Still, I should be able to update in... about a month, maybe a month and a half.

5697351 I'll still be waiting then. I'm a very patient person... :twilightsmile:

Lyra with a sword, nice! :rainbowlaugh: Glad to see this story's being updated again!

I wonder if the blade will glow blue... and what is a Wight? Some kind of zombie?

You should continue this!

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