• Published 22nd Feb 2016
  • 5,488 Views, 114 Comments

There's Something About Merry - vdrake77



Everfree Forest doesn't always release those who enter and enjoy it's bounty easily. Sometimes, it can be downright vindictive.

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Eat, Drink, and Be

No, it shouldn't have done that, Zecora thought, but that wasn't exceptionally helpful. "I do not mean to deride, but you'll stay back or you will go inside."

"But it's a pony now, and it looks hurt! We can't just leave 'er!"

"A familiar form its taken, true, but we have no idea what it will do. What do you do when a potion fails?"

The young farmer groaned. "If potion fails, to find what ails, start from heads and work to tails. But Zecora-"

"I shall see unto the beast, but we don't know its anger's ceased. If you were hurt, or worse, were dead, then Applejack would have my head."

Apple Bloom nodded, shifting her awkward hold on the frying pan in her hooves. "Ah know, Ah know, but... ain't there some sort of knockout powder we could use instead of... y’know, cast iron?"

Zecora shook her head firmly. "It's outside soporific norm, but nevertheless it's true to form. Not the best way to use a skillet... but we have a need, and that will fill it."

Apple Bloom grumped. "Maybe if you're Sweetie Belle..."

"Please, do not mention that young mare! You'll frighten off my kitchenware."

"That only happened once, and there was extenuatin' circumstances and probably Discord!"

"Oh Harmony, child, don't get him involved. We have enough problems unresolved."

"...Didn't mean we should...!"

Zecora approached the pile of kindling, nudging the pony inside with a her staff. Definitely a mare. Definitely breathing. Three tone pinto, actually. Green spots and a brown mane. Natural camouflage, that was unusual. The wolf-turned-pony groaned and weakly swatted at the bamboo rod. Fluttershy had probably cared for kittens that were stronger.

It was eerie, and Zecora couldn't bring herself to deny it. She'd never seen anything like this. But first and foremost, she had to get this pony out of the elements, and into shelter. After that, she was sending the young Apple home.

She'd seen another creature in the forest that looked like a pony and very much wasn't. She wasn't going to risk Apple Bloom's safety on this one. And she certainly wasn't going to give the filly nightmares.

There were enough of those in the world without Zecora sharing her own.

"So d'ya know her?"

The zebra's lips pursed and she glared at her apprentice, who was, of course, standing only slightly farther away than Zecora herself was but absolutely not back in the relative safety of her hut and its wards. Apple Bloom shifted, but attempted to feign ignorance to the glare.

“I'm afraid I know her not, though she could wake as a friend. We'll put her in a cot; until then we'll just pretend.”

“What?”

"Come, young Bloom. Up to my room."

"Didn't ya'll say there was wards or somethin' to keep timberwolves out? What'll they do to her?"

Harmony, what indeed?


Nothing, as it turned out. There was magic afoot, that much she could determine, but... poison joke, the supernatural magics of Everfree, and, now that she'd pushed some hair aside, the pony was a unicorn. That probably explained a few things, unicorns never seemed to have a proper respect for their own magics, but she'd never known them to meddle with self-transformation. She'd tried the potion she'd been working on after her first encounter with Princess Celestia’s apprentice and felt no small amount of relief when she didn't see the telltale sign of the stranger. She wouldn't use its name. Names were dangerous for things you didn't understand, her Ouma had said, and Zecora had developed new respect after that day. She’d also decided that perhaps ignorance was bliss. At very least, she didn’t use the salve anytime she visited Ponyville. What little correspondence she had with the guardspony-that-was-not was short, to the point, and never mentioned the events of their encounter.

Zecora found that she much preferred it that way.

She'd refused to let Apple Bloom haul the litter; she didn't want the young mare tied to this thing, no matter what it really was. Getting it, her, inside hadn't been that much of a problem, either. The mare had the body of an angry scarecrow. Leanly muscled, leanly built, but… hollowed. A hunter's physique, if one that had succumbed to a wasting illness that only targeted soft parts of the body, leaving muscle, skin and sinew unharmed.

It was deeply unsettling. The figure was simply… wrong for a pony. Even one starved would have changed in other ways. If she’d been brought to Zecora for a diagnosis, the zebra would have immediately checked for parasites of some sort. She’d given Fluttershy a treatment for worms not too long ago for several of her little friends.

Maybe it was wormwood. Zecora bit down on laughter. It would have come across as hysterical, and she certainly didn’t need that. Apple Bloom was taking this much better than she’d expected the filly to, but much of that probably came from Zecora’s own attempts to rationalize this whole mess. Or maybe being the little sister of an Element of Harmony, her threshold for what level of ‘unusual’ was actually worthy of concern was skewed.

She'd tucked the new pony into her own bed and bound the covers tightly. With that completed, she turned to her apprentice, who had actually obeyed without question when the zebra had told her to fetch as hearty a meal as the little pony could scrounge together. A rough salad, mostly edible herbs with a splash of apple vinegar, a thick bowl of stew, and three apples, one slightly wrinkled but still very much edible. Zecora had the grace to blush under her apprentice’s scrutiny of the last, but the bond between student and teacher went both ways and the young Apple didn’t deign to comment on the matter. The bowls went beside the bed, within reach. She didn’t expect the individual in her bed to rise, and more to the point as soon as she got Apple Bloom out of here she intended to take more sturdy precautions than a sheet.

"Apple Bloom, listen and listen well. Of what happened here, you must not tell."

"Whu- Zecora, Ah've been told all sorts of things about telling ponies immediately when anypony says that. Last time we almost got hostage negotiatin' cutie marks."

Zecora blinked, stared at her apprentice, and then sighed with a shake of her head. She'd ask Applejack. Over cider. Hard cider.

""A bit more time is what I seek. I ask for but a single week. I must know what has happened here, and only time will tell, I fear."

"Well... alright. But what if she needs help?"

"If she needs help, then we'll provide. Now, we must get you home-"

"-or AJ's gonna tan my hide." The pony finished, wincing.

Zecora frowned, but Applejack's family had a tendency towards hyperbole for that. Applejack had cheerfully recounted a 'beating' that involved Granny Smith haranguing her for an entire work day over the idea that the mare just might not get married. It had gone onto a tangent about the family name, children, adoption, prime birthing years, and settled on 'Well Macintosh ain't doing it' and Applejack insinuating that Macintosh just might be, and that had knocked Granny's teeth out. It had not, to Zecora's confusion, actually involved anything worse than a browbeating. She also wasn’t entirely sure that Granny’s teeth had physically fallen out but from the grin the farmer had given her… she rather suspected they had.

The farm ponies were a bit odd. Then again, in Zecora's bed was a mare that was once a timberwolf that had tried to eat her on several occasions. Maybe she didn't have room to talk?

Besides. For the price of an apple and a short walk, she could lay her eyes on Big Macintosh working a field, and there wasn’t a sane mare in Equestria that couldn’t appreciate that. Harmony help them all if Applejack ever realized there was a second reason Sweet Apple Acres did brisk business throughout the day.

‘Focus, Zecora!’ she chided herself, annoyed. “Your meter's lacking. Let's go, get cracking.”


She returned to find the majority of her bed piled on the floor, the bowls nowhere to be seen, and her stewpot upturned and conspicuously empty. She’d have counted it another very strange lesson from Everfree if the pile of bedding hadn’t chosen that moment to add another white stripe to her mane.

“Whoryu?” Came the rasping voice from the pile. A pair of green eyes stared out at her, reflecting the light strangely.

It took Zecora a moment to even recognize it as words and not just an odd growl. “A friend, if you’ll show your face. I see you’ve already had the run of my place.”

The mare turned her head, and Zecora saw that the eyes weren’t just reflective. They were actually glowing, like those of the timberwolf she’d only recently been. The wolf’s eyes in a mare’s head took in the world, and she could see them categorizing her environment. Zecora’s herbs took much note, and her bottle of apple cider vinegar – which was now empty, she noted with growing concern. The mare had eaten everything she’d been able to reach. Reaching the stewpot had probably involved falling out of bed and dragging herself to it.

She wasn’t skeletal anymore. Now she was merely gaunt, as a pony on an extended fast should be. No longer a nightmare, at least, but her coat and mane were long and matted beyond anything Zecora had ever seen before.

“Said… who.” A hoof reached up in the tangle, rubbing at her throat.

Ouma certainly hadn’t taught her granddaughter to be a fool. “Why don’t you tell me first, and then we’ll see if we can slake your thirst?”

“Wolf.” The mare growled, eyes brightening for a moment before they dimmed, confusion starting to build on those strained features. “No. Not wolf. Wasn’t wolf. Was. Something else.” The head lowered, and the eyes dulled further. “Hungry. Tired.”

"Please relax, and do not strain, until you are yourself again. Your memories will come in time-"

The mare’s eyes locked on her own, blazing back to life. “STOP. RHYMING.” The snarl that twisted her face didn’t belong on a pony in the least, but it certainly got her point across.

“I… Very well. Yes, I see. Do you at least know how you came to-” The eyes flared even brighter, and Zecora bit off the end of the question. That hadn’t really been an intended rhyme, but apparently the unicorn was going to have none of it. Zecora hesitantly backed her way to a table where another bowl of soup rested, and greedy green eyes fell upon it.

Zecora hesitated, gathered the bowl carefully, set it down, and with a firm push of her snout, slid it over to the entangled pony. Much of the tension seemed to slip away; too naive to be suspicious, then. Or perhaps too hungry to care.

“...Merry. My name. Merry.” The mare buried her face in the bowl of stew, eschewing magic and spoon entirely as she ate noisily, lapping stew and chewing root in odd intervals. The mare was slumping even as she ate, but Zecora had expected that. For all her chiding of Apple Bloom, sleep powder definitely had its place in an alchemist’s workshop. Still, the bowl was emptied before the mare slumped into it, breath relaxing as her body fell fully into a deep slumber.

Merry. Well. It wasn’t fitting. But at least it was certainly pony. So now for the big question; what in the world was she supposed to do with her?

Author's Note:

Hey folks, sorry for the huge delay here. I wanted the timelines to sync up a bit better before really starting on Merry's story. Hope you enjoy!

Comments ( 46 )

"Apple Bloom, listen and listen well. Of what happened here, you must not tell."

"Whu- Zecora, Ah've been told all sorts of things about telling ponies immediately when anypony says that. Last time we almost got hostage negotiatin' cutie marks."

Zecora blinked, stared at her apprentice, and then sighed with a shake of her head. She'd ask Applejack. Over cider. Hard cider.

Besides. For the price of an apple and a short walk, she could lay her eyes on Big Macintosh working a field, and there wasn’t a sane mare in Equestria that couldn’t appreciate that. Harmony help them all if Applejack ever realized there was a second reason Sweet Apple Acres did brisk business throughout the day.

My sides were already sore from reading a particularly hilarious harry potter fic. They are now even MORE sore.

AS THE SACRED TEXTS FORETOLD! THERE IS INDEED SOMETHING ABOUT MERRY!

OH MY GOD! It updated?!?! The prophesy has come true!

9249266
Well, you can't just say that without giving us a link.

I forgot about this one!

Well, let's see where this little romp in the forest takes us....

Congratulations on having 220 likes with 0 dislikes. The rare infinite ratio.

Apple Bloom nodded, shifting her awkward hold on the frying pan in her hooves. "Ah know, Ah know, but... ain't there some sort of knockout powder we could use instead of... y’know, cast iron?"

HEY the frying pan is the noblest of weapons and be happy she even let's you wield it :trixieshiftleft:

Or maybe being the little sister of an Element of Harmony, her threshold for what level of ‘unusual’ was actually worthy of concern was skewed.

It's very skewed :moustache:

Zecora herself was but absolutely not back in the relative safety of her and its wards.

her hut and

She also wasn’t entirely sure that Granny’s teeth had been physically fallen out but from the grin the farmer had given her

remove

if the pile of bedding hadn’t chosen that moment to turn add another white stripe to her mane.

turn and add

but her coat and main were long and matted beyond anything Zecora

mane

It's back! This is a glorious day!

I guess one of the reasons this story wasn't updated sooner wad because you wanted Zecora to have her meeting with Idol first?

I love how you portray Zecora and her inner monologue it's definitely fun to read from the point of view of such under used character. Keep it up!

The back and forth between her and Applebloom was really funny when Zecora ends up wondering what her apprentice is up to when she is not here. I really hope we will see more interaction between those two!

And are you suggesting that Big Mac sleeps around and Granny though he was gay?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I would have loved to see her face. But its not surprising he get a lot of attention from mares all around, being the most sought after bachelor of Ponyville. And it's true that Sugar Bell only appear until very later so he is still single.

Maybe Applebloom will try to set him up with Zecora... could be interesting to see.

And Merry... Oh Merry, what an interesting turn of events. Did you take idea of her being turned into a Timberwolf from Ponyville Mysteries: The Tail of the Timberwolf?

And since this story will probably feature Poison Jokes at some points so I hope you will have some fun with this and we will see a lot of ponies (or other creatures) affected by the flowers. Seriously, the show should have done more with that gold mine. Like a villain weaponizing it or something... the CMC, I wanna see them under Poison Jokes influence very much.

Oh! And it would be fun if we could see more of the Everfree fauna and flora since Zecora is the 'steward' of the forest.

Glad we have a new chapter for this wonderful story.

Awesome! Are you going to keep going with the story for now on I hope?

Huh. This is... alive? Well. :D

"relative safety of her and its wards"
Missing word(s)?

"She wouldn't use it's name."
"She wouldn't use its name."?

"hadn’t chosen that moment to turn add another white stripe"
Missing word(s)?

Initiate mental recovery and restitution protocols!
Perhaps a nice bath?
Keep going! ;)

FTL

A decade as a timberwolf would definitely leave one's psyche rattled and distorted... it is a wonder Merry has this much of his/her mind functional... on that note, it is also interesting that Merry reverts to a mare rather than his original unpoisioned-joked stallion form. Deeper magic is at work here I suspect.

Dang, now that's a lot of Zecora dialogue. No wonder this chapter took a while.

The mare’s eyes locked on her own, blazing back to life. “ STOP. RHYMING. ” The snarl that twisted her face didn’t belong on a pony in the least, but it certainly got her point across.

Yikes, and Merry isn't a fan.

Would that blasted mare stop drugging people!?

Wow, quick! There's a former guard trainee that needs to be told.

Waiting for the mental breakdown that is inevitably going to happen.

Drink, and Be MERRY~

9249405
You just summoned Murphy with that sentence. Oh well. C'est la vie.

This one has definatly got my attention

I missed this update! The story looks like it's shaping up to be interesting.

Ohhh this is attention grabbing.

It's neat seeing how Changelings can spark the fear of the hidden other, and how it can stick with some people.

9249889
Well, Merry was a female timberwolf, after all. So even half-mad/enchanted, that's gotta leave a mark on the mind, too.

Didn't even realize this updated until you gave it a shout on Changeling of the Guard, and now that the timelines are much closer (I think this one is still at least slightly ahead, given the Discord mention) we don't have to worry about one spoiling the other.

Wolf horse werehorse?
I want more now that the plot as been established. I wonder if Merry can eat meat

Well, two and half years later, and... she's awake. Excellent. Maybe by the time my great grandkids are in nursing homes we'll get to see Merry reunite with her friend.

I kid, though. It's good to see this updating. Still super excited to see what comes of this.

""A

delete a quote

I just found this. And:

1. Where in Idol's timeline should this be taking place?
2. Hostage negotiation cutie mark? ... Be afraid? Be Very, very Afraid?

She'd seen another creature in the forest that looked like a pony and very much wasn't. She wasn't going to risk Apple Bloom's safety on this one. And she certainly wasn't going to give the filly nightmares.

Ah, so THAT'S why this chapter was delayed. Had to finish up the trip to Ponyville arc since this happens afterwards.

Christ. What HAPPENED to the poor mare? It's been an entire decade, too... :fluttercry:

9429947
Zecora directly mentions meeting Idol in this chapter. So it's after the trip to Ponyville arc. Merry has been this way for a whole decade.

Please sir, may I have some more?

I very much love your Changling of the guard series, and this as well, it would be lovely to see it explored more. Thanks for all the amazing work and reading you've shared with us. : )

Shining Armor must never learn of the transformation; cannibals are surely consigned to damnation. The wolf was too large for a pony to be, so let Shining believe he consumed a tree.

9788700
Pretty sure this is taking place well after that, since Zecora's already met Idol. He didn't eat a pony.

9876248
...That’s the point. Psychology is a funny thing, though, so hearing that a tree-wolf turned into a pony could induce irrational horror even though the consumed wolf was too big to be a pony. It’s just best to let him stay ignorant of it, y’know?

If she has any brains, than first thing to do is to ask a smart person. And there only one smart purple person in town.

Also, "Don't you dare to threaten me in my home!"

Sooooo, how’s writing this going?

Fascinating stuff. Looking forward to more whenever it may come.

This dead or just updating infrequently?

Looking forward to chapter 3 on June 25th, 2021. :V

Sounds like Merry had... a time. Not sure what kind of time, or even if time works the same way in the Everfree as in other places, but certainly... a time.

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