Sitting on a tree stump deep within the Everfree Forest was a bipedal creature playing a soothing tune from a flute. The creature’s bottom half shared the likeness of a goat. Both of his legs had hooves at the end of them and were covered in light gray fur. At the base of his spine was a small fluff of fur forming a tail. The top half of the creature’s body shared similarities with a monkey. Instead of being covered in fur like its legs, it was bare with pale skin. Its head had short hair coming from the top of it and a pair of goat’s horns. The creature’s eyes were closed as its fingers moved across the flute. The tune seemed to calm the forest itself. Sounds of life, both being born and taken away, would ordinarily be heard in the forest. The only sound accompanying the creature was the sound coming from the flute. A rustling in a bush in front of the creature stopped its playing. It looked up and placed its flute down.
“Hello?” it asked. From the bush came a purple baby dragon. He was carrying a basket full of apples and a small wooden flute was around his neck. The dragon set the basket down, wiping his forehead. A smile formed on the creature’s face. “Hello there, Spike. Are you here for your lesson?”
“Hello Mr. Venu,” the dragon said. “I am. But first, I brought you something from Sweet Apple Acres.” Spike walked towards the creature with the basket in tow.
“That’s very thoughtful of you,” Venu said. He reached behind him and pulled out an identical basket. Instead of being full of apples, the basket was full of blackberries. “I know how much your guardian likes blackberries, so I picked some for the both of you.”
“Thanks,” Spike exchanged his basket for Venu’s. “Before we start the lesson, can I ask you a few questions?”
“Be my guest,” Venu bit into one of the apples. “Whatever you ask, I’ll try my best to answer.”
“Why don’t you leave the Everfree Forest?” Spike asked sitting down. “This place, it’s unnatural.”
“Is that what you’ve been taught? That this place is unnatural?”
“Well, yes.” Venu chuckled.
“Spike, this forest isn’t unnatural. As a matter of fact, when all of pony kind dies off, Equestira will be like the Everfree.”
“What do you mean?”
“Exactly what I said,” the core of Venu’s apple was placed beside him. “When you first walked into this forest, you felt something didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“What do you think that thing is?”
“Umm…” Spike tapped his chin. “Supernatural mojo?”
“Supernatural, no. Mojo, yes,” Venu laughed. “This entire country is full of magic. Everything is guided by it. And when I say everything, I mean everything. The plants that the earth ponies grow have magic flowing through them. The pegasai are able to control the clouds themselves with their inert magic. And it’s rather obvious as to what the unicorns do.”
“What does this have to do with you not leaving the Everfree?”
“You’ll see. If all of Equestria has magic within it then the Everfree is no different.”
“But the Everfree is so wild and uncontrolled,” Venu snapped his fingers and pointed to Spike.
“That,” he said. “Is exactly why I make my home here.”
“I don’t understand,” Spike said.
“The magic in the Everfree Forest is wild and uncontrolled,” Venu explained. “It’s because of that, that I stay here. Some get lost within the forest, and those who do get lost, need a guide out. But others need a guide into it.”
“And that guide is you?”
“Precisely. But there is another reason I make my home here. And it’s because I genuinely love this forest. It’s alive, unpredictable, and wild. I love every bit of it,” A content smile was on Venu’s face. “Does that answer your question?”
“Yeah,” Spike looked around himself. The sound of bird songs echoed all around them. A small smile formed on his face. “I guess it does.”
“Good,” Venu picked up his flute. “Have you been practising?” The baby dragon took his flute off his neck and nodded. “Very good. Show me if you’ve improved.” Spike raised his flute to his lips. When he blew into it, a calm tune came from it. Venu closed his eyes as he listened to Spike’s flute. A gentle wind blew past the two of them as Spike played. The bird songs silenced themselves when he played. The wind grew in strength when sharp notes left Spike’s flute. He finished his song and placed the flute down.
“Well?” Spike asked. “How’d I do?” Venu opened his eyes.
“Very good,” he said with a smile. “You played a little too quickly in some parts of the song, and you could use a little more training when it comes to breathing, but other than that, you did fantastic.”
“Thanks, Mr. Venu,” Spike said. “Any ideas as to where to go next?”
“Just keep practising,” Venu picked up his flute. “You’re improving at an incredible rate. I wouldn’t be surprised if you master that instrument in a month’s time.” Spike rubbed the back of his head.
“You’re just saying that,” he said.
“I’m not,” Venu looked up. Light was fading from the sky. “It’s getting late. I think it would be best to get you home.” Spike mimicked his teacher and looked up.
“There’s still a little time before I have to leave,” he said. “There should be enough time to play one more song. Do you have time for that?” Venu brought his flute to his lips. A gentle melody came from it as his fingers moved. Spike brought his flute to his mouth and did the same as the faun in front of him. Smiles were on both of the flautist’s faces as they played their song.
Norse Pony’s comments: I like this take on the Everfree Forest and its place in the magical ecology of Equestria. I also like Venu’s character, the mysterious flute teacher and guide to the Forest is delightfully Zelda-feeling. Excellent description on Venu, too. I was hoping someone would do a satyr or centaur, something with human parts, just so that I could see how the author would handle the description. I’m on board with the description of his human parts as being like a monkey’s, that works beautifully in a human-less world.