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The Curse of the Verse

Shadow Chaser


blog-0571323001358894798.jpg**This is the first chapter of a fic idea I had for how Zecora came to rhyme all the time. Posting it for posterity and as a place holder.**



Many years after Shadow had finished his work as an agent for Princess Luna, he often found time to just wander through Ponyville and talk to ponies. Really learn about their lives, where they had come from prior to living in Ponyville and exactly how they got there. To be able to simply sit and listen to others talk made Shadow feel at ease after years of being on edge. It was a part of retirement that he did so love.


On one such day, Shadow found himself walking the winding and unkept path to Zecora's home in the Everfree Forest. He watched the trees for predators as he walked but today seemed to be a lazy day for everyone. The ponies in town had moved with a slow contentment that was uncommon from the usual hustle and bustle, and the same seemed to be true even in the forest. Twice Shadow happened across creatures nearly twice his size, that he could not readily identify, but they seemed uninterested in him. They would eye him as he walked, but, perceiving no threat from him, they let him pass undisturbed.


As Shadow followed the path, he recalled the stories some of his friends had told him. Fluttershy's fall from grace, Pinkie's rock farm family, and even Twilight's first few days in town. He found each story fascinating. Though, not every story he heard was a happy one until the very end. Ponyville seemed to have a magical aura all its own that made the residents thrive. Love and happiness was always around. Shadow was unsure if this was the small town mentality or simply a greater cause of ponies wanting to be a part of something greater, with none of them realizing that they were what made it great.


Whatever it was, Shadow liked Ponyville, and, over the years, he had earned many friends. None so strange as the one he now ventured to see. Zecora was a strange pony by nearly any standard. Beyond just being a zebra, she was an earth pony who specialized in a very specific type of magic. Shadow had once called it black magic and she had been quick to correct him.


"Just because a horn I lack, does not mean my magic is black," she had said.


Shadow had rarely inquired further. Her business was her own and he respected her privacy.


Today, however, Shadow would inquire about her past. Although he had never asked her, he was all but certain she had a troubled history. Something about her demeanor made him think she was almost as traveled as he was. And a journey as long as that would undoubtedly have a few bumps.


As he reached the clearing that contained her cottage, he smiled. Her home always looked so inviting in the midst of these dreadful woods.


Knocking gently on her door, she answered in her usual fashion, "A visitor on this beautiful day? Please come in and have a stay." Her voice was cheery.


Zecora had always liked Shadow. He was intelligent, with a mind for the world, and kind hearted. Two traits that she considered paramount among friends. She beckoned him inside and closed the door behind them. Offering him some tea, which he kindly accepted, Zecora sat with her friend.


"So what brings you to my home this day? A walk in the woods or are you astray?"


Shadow chuckled. Her rhymes always made him laugh. "No, Z, I'm not lost. I came to see you. I just wanted to visit for a while and chat."


"Then I'd best brew some more tea for us. And what is it you'd like to discuss?" Zecora rose from her chair and began to gather dishes to make more tea.


"Well, I'd like to hear about, if you're willing to share, how you came to live in Ponyville. Or at least on the edge of it."


Zecora paused as she made the tea, nodding her head slowly with her back to him. "It is not a story I often share. But I will tell it, if to hear it you care."


"I've always cared to hear it, Z. I just haven't always had the time." Shadow sipped at his tea. A surprisingly sweet blend.


"It is good that you have extra time. Have you ever wondered why I speak in rhyme?" Zecora sat at the table once more and refilled Shadow's nearly empty cup.


Shadow nodded. "I'd be lying if I said I hadn't. I just figured it was something that your people did. I never thought it was very strange, though. I find it rather pleasing to the ear, in fact. But I remember a day, years ago, when I didn't hear you speak in rhyme. It was just one sentence but it stuck with me."


Zecora smiled faintly. "The day you speak of, I remember well. It was just a week after I finally broke the spell."


Shadow furrowed his brow. "Spell? What spell?"


Zecora shook her head. "Not just a spell, a horrible curse. That forced me to speak in rhyme and verse. It was cast on me when I was a foal. I made removing it my life's goal."


"But you said when you spoke to me that you had broken the spell. If you aren't forced to speak in rhyme anymore, why do you continue to do it?"


Zecora sighed. "Early in life we form habits we often never break. It's much more important when you're life is at stake."


"Are you saying since you were a child that you were forced to rhyme or you would die?"


Zecora nodded, the grief in her face was clear.


"So how did it all happen?"


After a deep breath Zecora spoke clearly and without rhyme, "I suppose I should start from the beginning..."

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