Fan Fiction by: H.P. Lovecolt
On the outskirts of Ponyville live various farmers. Some of them are general farmers, some of them are rock farmers, and some of them take care of various orchards. I visited the western outskirts of this territory, out where most of the rock farmers lived and worked. I was intrigued by tales of a forest that the farmers avoided. I went from farm to farm, asking the locals about the forest.
Most glared at me, giving me strange answers and avoiding answering me directly. Many talked about 'The strange time', but they would not elaborate on it. No matter who I asked, no matter how hard I pressed the ponies would not give me any direct information. The most they told me was to avoid that forest, and that the strange time had left an old pony by the name of Ammi Pie dejected and crazy. I recognized that name as the name of my friend Pinkie Pie's uncle, hearing from her as well that Ammi was crazy.
I was determined to check out this forest myself. The local ponies called it a cursed heath, something unnatural that they dared not approach. Now I had once been cooed into believing that curses existed once before myself, but I learned my lesson then. However as I approached the forest at once I noticed that there was something unnatural about it. The trees seemed much too thick for this part of Equestria, and the air seemed sinister and foul. As I approached the cursed heath, I thought to myself it was as if somepony had coined that word directly after being there. There was no other way to describe the place; an unnatural silence filled the air putting me on edge. When I stepped into the clearing the sun was low in the sky, and the lighting of the whole thing made the sight even more peculiar. Five acres appeared to have been burned away, charred to grey. But had this been any natural fire surely the vegetation would have grown back.
As the sun began to sink and the shadows lengthen my uneasiness grew. I could have sworn I saw things moving in the shadows as I hurried away from the cursed heath, but I kept my eyes on the path and refused to investigate them any further. By the time twilight had begun I was galloping as hard as I could back to my library home. I did not want to be near that blasted place with the sinister stars out. Strange as how it affected me; the stars do not usually make me feel uneasy, but that night near that place the stars felt as if they were a thousand eyes of some monster that wished to devour my soul.
The next day I returned to the same fields that I had wandered asking the locals about the cursed heath. I had no intention of returning to the blasted place, but rather I thought I'd hunt down old Ammi Pie and get the story from him. His house was near the forest, and as I passed it I shuddered; I could have sworn that the shadows moved on their own, independent of any outside force.
When I first met Ammi I didn't know how best to coax his story out of him. I feigned an interest in the mechanics and traditions of rock farming. It turns out that old Ammi Pie was more there than I had been lead to believe. He was sharp and relatively attentive, and before long he had deduced why I had really come there. But despite this, there was an air of not being all there, his gaze often wandered to the window or door, or sometimes just to the wall. Occasionally he would stop, sometimes mid word, to gaze around frantically before continuing what he was saying.
He told me his story, the story of the strange times and how the cursed heath came to be. As his story finished I was left in no doubt why the locals had danced around my questions about the heath or the strange times, and it didn't surprise me that the old Pie had been left slightly broken. As I listened to that old pony talk about his tale I remembered fragments of things. Old lectures from my mentor Princess Celestia, books, stories from my parents. Now I can't quite recall the exact things that came to my mind, but the story its self is as fresh and clear now as it was after Ammi had finished. As he talked I shivered, despite it being a relatively warm day.
According to Ammi it all started with the meteorite. Before then there had been no tales of witchcraft or curses outside of the Everfree Forest. The forest before the strange times was as peaceful as any other pony-ruled forest. Foals ran through it, colts took their fillies through it on walks, and the dusk held no sinister intention. But then a strange pure-white cloud had appeared over the forest, a series of explosions and it dispersed as something fell from the sky. It landed on Apple Family land, though a separate farm than Sweet Apple Acres. It was the house of Pippin Apple that stood where the cursed heath was to appear. Ammi talked about the perfectly trim white house, standing amongst a few small fields and a small orchard.
Pippin came to tell the town and various farmers of the strange rock that he had found. Ammi was younger then, this being over forty years ago during 962. Pippin had stopped by Ammi's house, who used his wife's connections with the Princess to bring a group of scientists to investigate the rock. As they walked out there Pippin said the rock had been shrinking ever since he had discovered it. Of course the scientists had discounted the notion, as had the citizens of Ponyville. Rocks did not shrink on their own. Ammi knew that Pippin had never reason to lie before now; the two were old friends after all. The rock its self was nothing like the group had ever seen before. It was half the size of a full-grown pony, and of a colour of which seemed to be beyond the normal spectrum.
The scientists wanted a sample of the rock as it was much too large to consider bringing the whole thing back to Canterlot. However when they took the hammer and chizzle to the rock they found it surprisingly soft, as if it were plastic or clay rather than some form of rock. Their sample was gouged out rather than chipped away.
The reports of the material seemed to suggest something strange. No matter what magic the scientists in Canterlot used they could not decipher the material. When magic failed they turned to using other methods to try and figure out what it was. Water washed right off of it, and no matter the strength of the acid they used it would not dissolve or even react. Two weeks after the sample was obtained the scientists returned to their lab to find that their sample was gone, as well as the equipment surrounding it. In its place was nothing but a charred surface.
The scientists returned to collect another sample, and by this point the rock had shrunk small enough to fit inside a saddlebag. No pony in Ponyville or the scientists could deny that the rock was indeed shrinking. When the scientists took their hammer and chizzels to the rock this time, however, it punctured the rock and it split into three parts. It was hollow inside, and the pieces began to shrink at a more rapid rate until only one small piece remained. The scientists hoped they would be able to find another meteorite. After two weeks of searching the scientists gave up, and for a time that was the end of the troubles.
According to Ammi that applebuck season was shaping up to be extra promising. The apples on the trees were growing the largest they had ever, and they showed radiance like had never been seen before. However once the crop was harvested it painted a whole different picture. Each apple had a taste as to be so foul no words could describe it. It was so permeative throughout each apple that even the smallest bite would be too foul to consume.
But that was only the beginning of the trouble. Winter was scheduled early that year, and with it came bitter winds and unnatural cold around the farm. Pippin had mentioned to Ammi that he noticed the animals around the farm just didn't seem natural. Their coats were the same, but there was something about their tracks that made it seem as if they were not right in some way. This was confirmed when Pippin's two foals Nittany and her brother Norland came across the corpse of a young squirrel, apparently dead in its tracks. Its face was twisted into shapes unnatural, and its body was of a pale grey.
When Winter Wrap Up came, ushering in spring things started to take a turn for the worse. Ammi mentioned a slight glow to the whole farm, as if lightning bugs inhabited every inch of Pippin's farm. However Ammi was clear to mention that the glow was something of unnatural sources. The glow was unlike anything anypony had seen before, and it gave a somewhat sinister feel to it.
Pippin's family stopped going into Ponyville, with the exception of Nittany and Norland who still had their classes to attend. They were the main source of information about this particular branch of the Apple family. They continued to go into Ponyville and carter supplies and information back and forth from their household.
It was through them that Ammi learned of what had befallen Pippin's wife. Poor Pinova had started to rant, not appearing right in her head. Nittany mentioned on how her mother would wonder from room to room, talking to herself and often times not even speaking coherent words or phrases. Later the same month Norland had said his mother would occasionally take to crawling on her belly, and chewing on things such as the table cloths. By the time Ammi had gathered the courage to visit Pippin; he learned that Pinova had been locked in the attic for her own safety.
The trees around Pippin's house budded early that year, growing their foliage faster than the other trees around the area. The leaves would sway ominously in the wind. Norland swore that they swayed even when there was no wind, but no pony would confirm this. Ponies stopped going by Pippin's farm, which lead to ponies visiting Ammi less and less.
When the flowers of the apple trees appeared they bloomed all sorts of unnatural colours. The leaves soon followed, turning from their usual green to shades of purple and red. Whispers had by this point started, all centring on a curse that had befallen the Apple family. Other members of the Apple Family had cut off all ties with Pippin and his kin.
The cows that lived on the farm with Pippin also began to act strangely. They all seemed to be simultaneously become mute, and their milk was inordinately sour. Pippin couldn't understand it, the grass that the cattle ate was not of the glowing grass that was around the general house, but rather was from a field away from the general ills of the farm. More over the pigs started to grow extraordinarily fat without reason, but they refused to look for truffles anymore. No doctors would come near Pippin's farm to check the cows or the pigs; the colt was going out of his mind.
Then the foliage around the farm started to change colour again. Instead of turning more vibrant colours, it was as if something was sucking the colour out of everything. The grass and trees started to turn an off-shade of grey, and had an air of brittleness to them. About a week after this change started Norland disappeared. No pony could understand where he could have gone off to, and all Pippin would say on the subject when Ammi came to visit him was that Norland had wandered off into the forest around twilight and hadn't returned. No pony in Ponyville or the surrounding countryside wanted to go near to Pippin's house to search for the boy, leaving Pippin alone in his grief.
By the time Applebuck season came around, every apple was a strange grey colour. When Pippin attempted to harvest them they crumbled to dust as soon as they touched the ground. What was worse were the pigs were suddenly fast losing all the weight they had previously gained. They complained of hunger, and ate constantly. Still, no matter how much they gorged themselves they only kept getting thinner. A possible explanation came in the form of Nittany, who had rushed in screaming from the well saying that there was something living in there. No pony paid her any attention though leaving Pippin and his family to continue to draw water from the well.
It was a week before the running of the leaves when the first pig dropped dead. Pippin was baffled, having told Ammi that the Pigs seemed to be getting somewhat better. But the real strange thing was how its whole body was the same off-shade of grey that the apples had been, that the leaves were and the grass was all of which glowed with some sinister unnatural light. When they tried to move the pig, it crumbled into dust before their eyes. In the week following the pigs continued to die mysteriously in this manner. When the Running of the Leaves came around, Ammi kept his family home. Of course Pinova was too ill to travel, but something kept him from going out with Nittany.
During that fall Nittany stopped going to school, being kept home with her father. As such Pippin's family was completely cut off from the rest of Ponyville. All throughout that fall and well into winter no pony heard anything about Pippin. It wasn't until half-way into winter did Pippin come crashing into Ammi's kitchen raving. It took some time to calm him down, but he eventually said that Nittany was now missing. Pippin said he had seen her go out to draw water from the well late at night. A few minutes later he had heard her scream, but when he rushed out there himself she was already gone. Not even the light from her lamp was visible. On top of that Pinova was getting worse. She now made animal noises and clawed the best she could at the door of the attic.
"It lives in the well…" Pippin had ranted, "I saw it, no form no nothing. It was just there, and I think it knows I know it's there…" Ammi had tried to calm Pippin down the best he could, and promised that they would get somepony out there to investigate. Pippin thanked Ammi and staggered back to his farm.
Two days later Ammi had gathered up two police ponies and the three of them walked to Pippin's farm. It was getting dark and Ammi didn't like how the vegetation around the area that was the off-grey colour glowed faintly in the twilight dark. As the trio approached the farm they found no pony waiting for them. However there was something there waiting for them. Ammi talked about what appeared to be some sort of mist, made out of some colour outside of the normal spectrum. The trio stopped as they watched the mist slowly glide over, and envelop one of the police ponies. Ammi's face turned to terror as he told me of the curdling scream that the pony had shrieked as well as the look of terror on his face. The police pony stood there, struggling with what appeared to be nothing more than mist. The colour seemed to drain out of him, and within minutes he had been reduced to nothing more than a pile of off-grey dust on the ground. The mist floated over to the other police pony, but at this time Ammi had seen enough. He turned tail and ran, sprinting as hard as he possibly could. He only slowed down when he reached his house. An explosion rent the air behind him. Ammi recalled turning around, staring as he watched as something rose into the stars from the general area that Pippin's farm had been.
It took Ammi a week to leave his house again, and a week further to gather together a group of ponies to investigate Pippin's farm. When they got there they found the Heath in relatively the same condition that it was today. Everything was the same off-grey colour; everything was dead with that charred look to it. There was the ruins of Pippin's house, and the ruins of the well. When the group went to investigate they found Norland and Nittany's bodies at the bottom of the well, and just like everything else when they were attempted to be retrieved they crumbled to the same grey dust that everything else had.
When Ammi finished his story I shivered. The story seemed to strange to be true, but my memory of the Heath and the forest surrounding the area was still far too vivid for me to write the story off as pure fantasy. Somehow, I knew that the tale was true. As I walked home that night I shuddered, looking at the stars with a different gaze than ever before. I didn't want to leave Ponyville, my friends lived there and I wanted to remain close to them. Still, I no longer could say I felt as comfortable living there as before. While I know that the events of the tale happened well before my time, I couldn't help but feel that the curse of those times still carried over to today. To this day I have not been to those parts of Equestria, for something about that cursed heath makes me feel that it is gripped in evil that not even the Everfree Forest would dare to touch.