• Published 30th Jul 2018
  • 3,031 Views, 356 Comments

Family Tree - miss-cyan

Getting cryptic notes from dead relatives is never a good thing. This was no exception. What are you supposed to do when someone wants you to solve a mystery when there's something out in the woods? That turns out to be the least of my problems.

  • ...

The Plan

I tried my best to stay calm, honest I did. But a nervous wreck like me doesn’t handle huge life-changing crap too well, if the last few days hadn't proved that already. Loud, internal sirens were going off every second I tried to find a part of me that wasn’t suddenly a horse. From what I could see, a blue horse.

I managed to roll onto my stomach. My arms, or…legs? Were sprawled out in front of me, useless. Every fiber of my being was trying to do something-anything with my fingers only to have the startling realization that they were gone. I still had my clothes on, but they were suddenly way too big and didn’t fit the weird shape of this body.

“Okay! HA! I’m dreaming! I fell asleep…in the dirt, or whatever! I’m…I’m-oh, this has to be a dream, right? Oh god oh god ohgodohgod-“

My first instinct to pinch myself failed abruptly when I realized that I had no fingers to pinch with.

“Oh ha ha hahaha-right right. Hooves! Fucking hooves.” I was on the verge of screaming, panic welling up inside my chest. Instead, nervous laughter spilled out in short panicked bursts, stealing my breath away.

I felt tangled up. I still had my clothes on, but they were suddenly way too big and didn’t fit the weird shape of this body, and I think the tail-

“Oh GOD there’s a tail back there, isn’t there??”

I did my best to wriggle out of them, the sudden claustrophobia of my own clothes outweighing my desire to not be naked in the woods. My boots had fallen off without the right shaped feet to hold them in place. Or...no feet. I couldn’t grab onto my clothes to help my efforts, so I put a hoof (okay calm down, breathe) a hoof on the loose fabric, pinning it to the ground. The rest of me twisted and squirmed loose as best it could.

After much more effort than I’d ever thought I’d need to undress, I was free. In my effort to get out of my jeans my unmentionables had shimmied down my weird horse legs. And my new lack of a chest had let my bra slip off with my shirt, as weird as it felt to be completely nude there wasn’t much sense in wearing something for what wasn’t there. I closed my eyes and tried to calm my nerves, halfway hoping that when I opened them again I’d be in my bed. Or at least not a horse.

No such luck though.

“Am…am I not dreaming?”

The horse wasn’t real, then it was. I didn’t know what I’d done to stumble into this weirdly specific hell, but I was here. The pain I’d felt when the ivy vines had completely taken over my body came flooding back to my memory. Something changed me. It was all real.

“Okay…I’m calm. I’m not gonna panic.” I whispered to myself, ignoring the fact that I had already kind of panicked. “I can figure this out...”

I used my hands (or hooves-whatever) to pat myself down to make sure I still had all my parts. I could kind of reach my back. Taking off my clothes I hadn’t felt them snag on any wings, and checking again there were none. And my forehead wasn’t sporting a horn either. So, I was a normal one, as far as I could tell.

I had an idea. I crawled over to my jeans and nosed around the pocket for my phone. I bit down on it gently and dragged it onto the grass.

“Now, let’s see the damage.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d had no hands to work my phone. Trying to cook from an online recipe with messy ingredients raised certain challenges. While the…muzzle I was sporting was a bit too broad and round to compare to my real nose and help me, the tongue was about the same as my real one. Though it was more of a bright orange than a pink.

A few taps opened my camera app and flipped the view around. And there it was.

A very strange face was looking back at me. Like the horse I had seen not long ago, the eyes were large and expressive and had changed from their copper brown to a bright sunflower yellow. And my hair had changed from the very dark brown it’d been my whole life to more of a dusky eggplant. And like the new legs the rest of me was blue too, like a pale cornflower. The original horse had natural colored fur, and the photo wasn’t in color so I hadn’t expected to see a blue one. Or be one, for that matter.

Despite the new coloring, it was still me. I could barely recognize myself but I was still in there somewhere. I opened my mouth wide to see that my teeth were oddly flat, my canines, eye teeth and such had smoothed out. I ran my tongue over them, something was awfully odd having a completely different set of teeth in my head. But strangely enough I had the same haircut.

And the tail…It twitched every now and then, flopping this way and that like it was trying out the new muscles. It probably didn’t help how nervous and slightly agitated I was. It was short and curly like my hair, the same color too. And glancing back there, I noticed something just slightly off.

“I don’t have…one of those things. The butt mark or whatever. So, they get them put on? But how? This is so dumb.”

I felt numb at how foreign it all was, like it was happening to somebody else in the woods. Some other unassuming jerk had stumbled upon some magical nonsense and been transformed by witches or fairies for trespassing where mortals should not tread.

I laughed nervously to myself, setting my phone onto the pile of clothes. I had no signal, no real surprise there. Even if I could call anyone what would I say? Hey Mom, can you come pick me up? I’m a little lost and also a horse.

“I have to…get up. I need to be literally anywhere else, thank you.”

My legs were still feeling wobbly and I was not eager to fall and get new bruises. But I wasn’t eager to sit in the dirt until a better option came along either. I came out into these woods to give up on this whole thing. If any of this was going to get fixed, I needed to get up!

“Okay…just get all…four feet on the ground and…how did Bambi do it?”

I planted the hooves firmly in the dirt and pushed myself up, feeling the full weight of the new body for the first time. One of my front knees buckled and my front half went down, but I didn’t stay down for long. I pushed up again, wobbled, but I stayed up.

“Okay, good. Now legs, work with me. It’s time to walk.”

I was scared to move any weight around and throw off the careful balance. I lifted one leg up and when I didn’t take a spill I tried putting weight on it a few inches in front of me. Off the top of my head I couldn’t remember how horses walked but I tried my best to not put the wrong foot forward in the wrong order. A few tries and I could manage what seemed like a wobbly walk.

I practiced for what seemed like forever, but if baby horses could do it in only so long so could I. I managed to pick up the pace a little, not quite a trot but I’m sure anyone could’ve seen the new pep in my step.

“I would kick a baby horse’s ass at this…” I had a strange amount of confidence in walking. And doing so, however uneasily, had me completely aware of all my new parts. I wasn’t one to strut around in the woods in my birthday suit so that was certainly a new sensation. The disassociation of being a naked blue horse rather than a naked Lottie helped, I’m sure. But more than that, I felt muscles moving that I wasn’t sure I had before. New teeth, new colors, a tail…was any part of this body still me?

I looked myself over, as if trying to find a seam or a loose thread on this fuzzy get-up. But the more I thought about it the more I freaked myself out. Freckles and childhood scars were suddenly replaced by bright blue fur, with no sign of ever being there. Little things that I never really cared about before were suddenly vital to proving I was in there, somewhere.

“I…still feel like me.” I tried to reason with myself. “I may be blue and covered in…admittedly soft fur, but I know who I am. And I won’t be like this for long, not if I have anything to say about it.”

I noticed something odd, even compared to all of this. My bruises were gone. I felt around for a dull ache or a twinge of pain, just in case the fur was only covering them up. But the spots that I’d hurt before were completely healed. Poof! Gone. Even the scrapes and scratches I’d gotten from being dragged by those vines had vanished.

Horse body aside, I still didn’t have any explanation for those vines.

“Okay…I was out by the weird tree. I was re-digging the hole to re-bury the box. And then…”

Where in the heck did horrifying, body-dragging ivy vines factor into this…horse weirdness? I was ninety-nine percent certain that that crap didn’t happen outside of like…Jumanji or Harry Potter.

“Pretty sure I didn’t stumble into some Devil’s Snare. Wait, didn’t the Forbidden Forest have unicorns? Agh! FOCUS!! This isn’t some ass-backwards fictional bullshit! You! In your real life! Just got attacked by killer plants and transformed…into. A blue horse-nope. Still sounds crazy…”

I sat in the grass, trying very hard to not to get frustrated and cry.

“Okay…you’re okay. It’s okay. Just think.” I tried desperately to reason with myself that this was going work out. “That…bunch of vines…dragged you further in. Took you to where your woods turn into horse woods. If…that even makes any sense. Where the town stops and THIS!” I stomped a hoof into the dirt. “THIS place starts. So, maybe turning into a horse couldn’t happen back home.”

It was a long shot, and nothing made sense in the first place, but the horse in the woods didn’t exist back home, it had shown up after I ran further in. And talking horses, unicorns and pegasuses weren’t real in the sane, rational environment of home. Not counting the box.

“If I can get back to Grandpa’s house, maybe…I’ll go back to normal.”

I’d get home, magically turn back into my normal human self and eat some leftover pizza. Maybe start packing. My day was still pretty free.

I tried listening for any sound of civilization, but like last time it was just nature. The new ears I was sporting were twitching and swiveling on top of my head at any noise, but it was just leaves rustling and the occasional bird. I was getting the sinking feeling deep in my gut that some stupid fairytale bull was going on and I was farther from home than I would care to be.

But there was a physical distance to be factored in here. I was dragged, for a little bit too. And last time I ran into this place. So somewhere between point a and b existed. If I took the same route, Grandpa’s had to be at the end.

God, I really hope so…

I debated leaving my clothes, but if I turned human again, I wasn’t looking forward to the five-minute walk in broad daylight in the buff. That’d be a heck of a way to greet the neighbors.

I gathered them up the best I could, considering my hands had ceased to exist. My shirt would have to be tossed out once I got home, it was covered in dirt (and frighteningly, a little blood) and the fabric was torn up. The seat of my jeans were pretty dirty too but they were still intact. I tucked my phone back into the pocket of my jeans and after a few attempts managed to drape them over my back.

I thought about tying the laces of my boots together and carrying them home either over my back or in my teeth before realizing tying knots would be a lot harder now. I slipped the hooves into the ends of my boots, noting just how odd a fit the were now. I was almost tempted to leave them behind. I was in horse territory now, and I wasn't about to willingly leave behind evidence that I had been there. But...if I got chased by more vines I'd be a goner trying to run in them. So far though, the terrifying plants hadn't made a reappearance, and if they did I could always ditch my cargo and book it.

Retracing my steps was my best bet. Well…steps being the mess my dragged body had been going through the bushes and underbrush. I followed the trail, remembering how much it had hurt to be dragged along the forest floor like that. But it paled in comparison to how much being turned into a horse had hurt.

“I wonder how long I was out.” I sighed, wishing I’d checked the clock on my phone earlier. Unlike back home, there didn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky, and I knew it was at least past noon but the sun was high in the sky, dead-center. Apparently my “I’m not on Earth” theory was ringing true, different weather and everything. It was unsettling, but nothing I hadn’t thought possible in all this.

I reached the end of the trail of destruction and started to worry again. I was beginning to feel weird again, getting quieter with each passing second.

"Is this...where home starts?" I thought to myself, knowing there was a separation but this was a bit much. The realization of there not being a straight path back to Grandpa's house was tearing me up inside. "How do I...I just..."

I paced around the end of the trail, trying to spy any kind of break or opening, an invisible door-anything! I felt my heart literally ache. This entire experience was completely overwhelming and all of my emotions were rushing up from inside me to burst out.

"It's not fair!"

I kicked a nearby rock as hard as I could, sending it flying in a random direction. It didn't make any sound, and it only made me madder.

"Why!? Why did this happen!? I didn't ask for this! I was ready to wash my hands of this whole thing! I should've just burned that damn box!" I stomped on the ground, my small frame trembling with rage.

"Fuck this! Fuck this whole stupid secret! Jesus Christ, Grandpa, what did you drag me into!?" I paced around, anger giving way to frustration. "I'm just some nobody! I've never done anything with my pathetic life, and now..."

I didn't want things to end here. My eyes were getting teary. I wiped at them with a blue-furred leg, my butt plopping into the dirt.

I must've sat there for god knows how long. I shut my eyes and a long, shaky sigh came out. It felt like all the air had left my body.

"I just...wanna go home."

It was still silent, save for my own breathing.

I felt a chill down my spine and in the quiet I felt something kind of familiar, almost like the slight bounce at the end of an elevator ride. I opened my eyes again, suddenly my surroundings were much more recognizable. I wiped my eyes again, trying to make sure of what I was seeing. The sun creeping closer to the horizon and the clouds were back, it was even a bit chillier. A ways down the path I spotted that weird tree.

"I'm...back?" I looked at the grass. Sure enough, the trail was on this side now, cutting off suddenly just like back there.

But I was still a horse.

My chest felt tight, and I tried to remind myself that it had been a long shot.

“I guess I should feel grateful that I’m back here at all.” I sighed, blinking away tears. “Considering the secret to getting back was to...want it pretty bad. I can't even begin to understand how that worked. But…what the hell do I do now?”

I stood thinking for a moment, deciding to try my luck. I closed my eyes again.

"I would like to...be me-a human, again...please."

No such luck.

"Oh, now it's crazy??" I shouted. "What are these bullcrap magic portal rules anyhow!?"

I was a pissed-off little blue horse in the woods.

But I could go home. I could eat some leftovers and sleep in my own bed. I could do just about anything.

Except leave.

A new, sudden and gripping fear hit me hard. I had no idea how to undo this and I was surrounded on all sides by people. My family would want to see me at some point to check up on me, and I had to go back to work soon. I had just gone shopping sure, but how long until I ran out of food? I couldn’t drive my car in my…condition. I didn’t even want to try. I would have to shut myself away. Nobody could know about this, not a soul.

I was cornered.

This might just be…the worst day of my life. I sniffed, my horse knees threatening to buckle. And for me, that’s saying something.

I had only expected to be gone for however long it would’ve taken to bury a box, so the backdoor was unlocked. With no people in sight, I made my way quietly through the taller grass and into the backyard. I carefully went up the back steps, mindful that I was still a little wobbly.

It was still empty and quiet. My mind raced with all the things I’d need to take care of. I’d of course have to call Teddy and get some more time off. I was very tempted just to quit altogether, but if I somehow figured this thing out, I’d be just as employable as before. I doubt “Was once a horse” worked on a resume. And I’d need to do some research on…horse biology. The last thing I needed was to get a snack and accidentally poison myself. Plus, as much as I hoped all this crap was temporary, if horses did anything weird I’d like to know ahead of time. I’d already noticed the tail doing things I didn’t move it to do, from general swishing around to snapping at a bug outside.

And more than anything, I needed to figure out how to turn back human. And as much as I doubted a quick internet search would fix my problems, I wasn’t going to stay a horse for lack of trying.

I dropped my clothes on the laundry room floor, tossing the shirt in the trash bin, got my phone and carried it gently in my mouth to the coffee table. I was going to be researching how to do a lot of things hands-free, electronics-wise. Or…everything-wise, I supposed.

“Let’s see. I think I left the house at two-ish? And it’s…7:37. I was out for a while…” I had passed out from the pain. The actual transformation hadn’t actually taken long. If my memory could be trusted.

Before I did anything else, I went around and, with my teeth I might add, closed all the blinds that I could reach. No sense in letting the mailman get to the porch and out me to the local news station. And speaking of mail, I would have to bring it inside in the dead of night too, long after the neighbors had turned in.

“I’ll be okay. I can do this.”

Google was mostly unhelpful on the whole “magical transformation” bit I was dealing with. Not that I had expected much. As far as I knew, I hadn’t pissed off a witch or trickster/deity. And I wasn’t noteworthy enough to anger Zeus or whoever, probably. And there were a few myths about angry plants, but not much on plants that did what those vines did.

And my general search on unicorns and pegasuses (a group of which could be called pegasi, I discovered, and multiple unicorns were apparently called a blessing), yielded some interesting mythology but little else. And “talking horse” got me little more than old clips of Mr. Ed and some odd youtube videos.

No, for once it seemed like the internet would be of little help to me. And typing with my tongue had gotten gross fast so I settled for putting a pencil in my mouth and very slowly tapping the individual keys.

Phone calls would be much easier. I asked my phone to call Teddy and the wonders of modern technology made it so.

“Hey Lottie. You never call my cell during business hours.” He laughed, sounding just a bit uneasy. “Is uh, everything alright?”

“Oh, yeah I’m okay.’ I lied without thinking. Remembering my situation, I shut my eyes in frustration. “Oh, no actually I’m calling for a bit of a favor, Teddy.”


“Yeah, I uh…I need a little bit more time off. I know it’s really inconsiderate of me but I…um…I need to…“ I struggled for a second, having figured a lie would’ve come about a lot easier.

“Oh, Lottie.” He said, sounding odd. “You don’t have to put up a tough front for me, kid.”

“Buh?” it slipped out, ever so intelligently.

“I get it. This whole thing’s really hard on you. And I know you told everybody you’d be coming back soon, but I thought something like this might happen.”


“Yeah, standard bereavement leave is three to five days at the most, but we’re a family-owned business and I decided since you were involved with funeral stuff you could do a week or so. And I know I’m your boss but, I get it. You’re a sensitive kid.”

Oh lord.

“I know you take stuff like this a little harder than most. Don’t worry, I can get my boys to pick up some shifts if I need help.”

For once my personal crap was working in my favor. I sighed, hoping I wouldn’t have to back this lie up for long.

“Thanks, Teddy. I know it’s dumb but, thanks. For real. I don’t know…exactly when this’ll get…better.” I stumbled a bit, realizing it was the truth.

“You just let me know when you’re up for coming back. Now, you understand I can’t pay you while you’re off, but you’ll still have a position waiting here anytime.”

“Thanks again, Teddy.” I smiled a genuine smile at my uncle’s generosity. “Oh and, this sounds weird but…could we keep this between us? Last thing I need is my mom or dad thinking I’m doing something irresponsible.”

“I guess that’s fine. But if they find out on their own, I knew nothing! I ain’t dealing with any of your mom’s crazy, ya hear?”

“Got it.” I laughed. “Thanks.”

One thing down. I was getting hungry again. I took a breather from my list of things to do to keep this newfound secret and went to the kitchen to get a snack. I nudged the fridge open and took a look inside. The internet had specified that most stuff was fine, but too much fruit or “cruciferous” vegetables like cabbage, broccoli of kale would mess up my insides. Or at least, the insides of a normal horse. I had bought some fresh strawberries today, I just made a mental note to pace myself with those. And I was never a vegetable person in the first place so the most I had was a bit of lettuce to put on my sandwiches. And poisonous plants for horses wouldn’t be a problem as I had no intention of going outside and eating random greenery.

I spied the pizza box on the top shelf. It would be easy to reheat, even as a horse. But…

I pulled the box out between my teeth, and moved it to the table. It was simple enough to get it open. I just stared for a moment, weighing my options.

“Curse you, meat-lovers pizza. This is one of the very specific scenarios in which I cannot eat you. Sudden involuntary herbivorous-ness.”

The internet had told me that meat eating for horses wasn’t that harmful, but it wasn’t encouraged either. A horse was specifically built as an herbivore and as far as I could tell, meat doesn’t really do anything good for them and can lead to malnourishment.

With that I was tempted to at least try it, but it still felt weird. Plus, I wasn’t a normal horse from Earth, and there was always a chance that meat, or anything else, could still be bad for me.

“Let’s just hope they don’t only eat rainbows and sunshine or some other nonsense.” I sighed, putting the pizza back in the fridge. Hopefully I would get this sorted out before it went bad, I hated to waste food.

I decided on an apple, I could eat it without hands and it wasn’t messy, and luckily my garbage can had one of those foot pedals. As hard as it had started out, this body was getting easier to navigate with every task.

And once again, I was alone with my thoughts.

"Okay...the internet was no help so...what...do I do?"

There wasn't a how-to book for getting transformed into something else. There wasn't anyone I could ask for advice. I barely understood what was going on in the first place. Once again I was out of luck. If I thought telling people about talking horses was gonna be hard, this was downright impossible.

“Nothing on Earth, literally, is gonna fix me. Even if I ask somebody for help…the odds of me being a spectacle or worse, an experiment for the rest of my life…No. I can’t risk it.”

I didn’t even want to consider just telling my family. Though, the longer this went on, the chances of that happening only got worse. They would tell somebody eventually, if only to try and help me and I’d be back to the experiment endgame. That or they’d hide me away and I’d be in my current situation, no leaving the house or showing my face to anybody. I didn’t have the option to run away from this. I had nowhere to go.

“Nothing on Earth…”

I dreaded the thought, absolutely not!

But the reason I’d stayed away before was because I would’ve scared them, that and I was in shock and denial. Now, more or less, I would blend right in. I had no clue what to expect on the other side of those woods. But…thinking about it…

The only place talking horses made sense was...

“That box was full of…horse stuff. It belongs to a horse, most likely. A horse that just might…know about humans, if Grandpa met them. If the me that's a horse now could somehow come here, could...could a normal horse? It’s a stretch, this whole thing is a hell of a stretch! But if I go…over there, figure out who this stuff belongs to, ask them if they know a way to change me back…”

I started to pace the living room hardwood. My original feelings of terror and denial were bubbling to the surface.

"It seems like I keep saying I'm never going back in those woods and the next minute I'm deciding to waltz back in! Every time has been a disaster!" I shouted, my preservation instincts screaming at me for considering something so reckless. "I don't want to know what the next step up from body-dragging vines could be!!"

It was absolutely bonkers. A new body, mythical creatures, magic portals behind the house, it was all just too much. And now I needed to dive even further in?

…it sounds so ridiculously unbelievable that you'd think I was a crazy old bastard

I would be going into unknown territory. But they would have food I could for sure eat and they spoke English…

You need to see it with your own eyes, you need to know that I'm not lying and that certain things are possible.

“I’m starting to warm up to certain possibilities. Though I think you wouldn’t have expected things to get quite this unbelievable.” I groaned, pacing around the living room. The clip-clop of hooves irritated me quickly.

Whether I liked the thought of going back or not, this wasn't something I could solve on my own. And there wasn't any promise that I would get help from a pony either. But it was quite possibly my only shot.

“It’s the dumbest, most terrifying thing I’ve ever considered doing.” I carefully climbed the stairs again to get back to my laptop. “I’ll need some prep time.”

When Rainbow Dash had burst into the library and recounted Roseluck’s story for her, Twilight had come as fast as her wings would carry her. She gently pressed the frightened pony for details, trying to narrow down what the monster could’ve been. But Roseluck was a little hysterical when forced to remember, and they didn’t get much.

“It…talked to me, in a pony’s voice, tried to get me to c-come closer!”

“It had sharp, pointy t-teeth! And long sharp claws!!”

“It was up high, on t-two legs, as tall as a bear!!”

She hadn’t heard of something like that, and the possible threat to Ponyville was enough to get her and her friends to investigate. Though they all really hoped whatever it was had run off by now.

Twilight and her friends had decided that while Roseluck could be kind of dramatic sometimes, it would make everypony feel safer if they went and investigated the woods. Only Fluttershy had asked if she could be excused from the mission, since a monster might be waiting for them. Twilight told her that if there was something wild in those woods, the animals who lived there would’ve seen it, maybe even been upset by it being there. That was enough to get her to stop shaking, hoping that whatever might be lurking out there hadn’t been bad enough to hurt any poor animals.

Rainbow Dash was the only one who was kind of hoping to see something. Both because she wanted Roseluck to feel better when they ran it out, but also so she could get in a few good bucks to its backside for scaring ponies. Applejack was thinking along those lines too, just a lot less hopeful to actually see anything. Rarity was always willing to tag along for these kinds of things, not only to provide support when needed (especially when Fluttershy got nervous and needed a calmer voice in her ear), but the rest suspected she found adventures like this a little bit thrilling. Something to spice things up between big orders.

The gap in the trees where Roseluck had gone through was off the path, in the denser part of the woods, there were wildflowers a bit deeper in, just as she’d said.

“Would you look at the size of these trees…” Applejack knocked a hoof against the trunk of a pretty thick tree just off the entrance. Most of the trees around them were giants, and they had to crane their necks to see the tops. “These fellas must be…two hundred years old…some of them a whole lot longer.”

Twilight hadn’t paid any attention to the forest itself, but looking around now, she had to admit it was impressive. Nopony had settled this particular patch of forest before, the only proof that ponies had been here at all was the dirt path made into the natural split in the trees.

She focused her magic, tapping into the bigger pool her alicorn body provided, and cast a wide net over the surrounding area.

“Anything lurkin’ around here, Twi?” Applejack stepped over to her, seeing her friend’s horn glow but not much else.

“I don’t…sense anything around here, but…that’s odd. Fluttershy, do you…notice anything off?”

“Oh! Um…” she seemed caught off guard, having been staring deep into the treeline. “Well, It’s…very strange but, I haven’t seen anything since we came in.”

“Well that’s quite a relief. I was afraid we were walking into something terribly dangerous.” Rarity visibly untensed, tossing her mane a bit.

“No, what I meant was… I haven’t heard or seen a single animal yet.”

“Maybe the big, bad monster scared them off!” Pinkie said in her spooky story voice, ducking down like she was hiding from an unseen creature. But Fluttershy was surprisingly unaffected.

“No, I haven’t seen any bird’s nests or animal dens around either. No tracks in the dirt either, just…forest.”

“That’s what I sensed too.” Twilight cut her spell off. “Besides the plant life, there aren’t any living things around for miles.”

“But…trees this big in a forest this thick would have lots of critters.” Applejack mused, tapping her hoof in the dirt. “They would help get the seeds around and no bugs means no pollinatin' for the flowers…”

Twilight did another scan for any foreign objects nearby. Daisy and Lily had asked them to retrieve the flower-collecting basket Roseluck had left behind when she ran, and the forest floor was too dense to see it from where they were. She was picking up something nearby and headed for it, her friends in tow.

They went a bit farther in found the basket, the flowers she'd picked still fairly fresh. Rarity's horn lit up and she set it upon her back. Twilight doubted she'd still want the flowers to remind her of this upsetting day. Very close by they noticed something strange. Just off a grassier area, on the dirt path, there were strange marks in the dirt.

“Not like any animal I’ve ever met.” Fluttershy noted, shivering a bit.

The dirt was too uneven to make out a clear print, and it certainly wasn’t from a hoof. The brush around this part was disturbed too, like something had been moving through it.

“Something was here…I think. But it’s long gone by now.” Twilight assured her friends.

“And stay out!” Rainbow called into the trees, not getting a response back. “Come back around here and I’ll knock your block off!”

As the group retreated to give the town florists some good news, Twilight paused at the entrance. Something was off about these woods, monster or no.

“I think I’ll come back tomorrow with some magical tests, just to make sure this area isn’t dangerous for ponies.”

“Dangerous? Why, whatever do you mean Twilight?” Rarity asked. “Are you afraid a creature might come back?”

“…It’s a possibility, but I’m more concerned about the forest itself. Natural magic can be very unpredictable, like the Everfree Forest. If it gets any more disruptive, we might have to put up a sign to keep any more ponies from entering.”

“I’ll come with you, in case anything big and nasty shows up.” Rainbow knocked her hooves together, looking pretty menacing herself. Twilight thanked her and on the way back to Ponyville, she already started to create some theories.

Something odd was going on. No doubt about that.

Author's Note:

if that whole "Lottie has to ask to go between worlds willingly" thing seems off to you, it is. but it'll make sense later on, don't even sweat it.

is Lottie right, could there be a horse in horseworld who knows about humans? can she ever be human again?

idk sounds far fetched

i think Roseluck might've let fear color her recollection.

so i started writing this a while back, so this takes place after Magical Mystery Cure, and before Twilight's Kingdom, for now. i have no plans for Starlight to show up, mostly because i've never written her before and also because this story has no use for the post-cutie map formula. things might branch off into an alternate story-line than the show if the need arises. or not, who knows?

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