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Humphrey's Grand Quest

by Obscure

Humphrey’s Quest
Humphrey Harold was a stallion on a mission. A mission so bold and adventure-packed, that he dared not speak of it to a single soul, lest they croak on the spot from sheer amazement! There was also the small matter of everypony else thinking he was a nut. But he knew what he had seen all those moons ago, and he would stop at almost nothing to get to it.
When he was but a colt he had found that old book of lore sequestered away in the back of his favourite bookstore, “The Well Papered Writer”. Though the book was worn, and even the author's name hadn’t survived, it was the contents that really intrigued Humphrey. Within the pages of this manuscript his young eyes glanced upon many marvels of the world outside of Equestria. Fanciful objects and bemusing tales of the gallant and the bold, those rugged kinds of ponies that he aspired to become like some day.
But deep within Chapter 22: Of The Mountains And Waters, was described a treasure greater than any other he could have imagined. It told of a fruit that was long ago cultivated by the race of Hippogriffs who lived in the far off Mount Aris. This fruit was said to cure many ailments from gangrene to bad breath, and it tasted mighty fine to boot! It was even supposed to whiten teeth, though this may have been an embellishment.
Unfortunately, the Chamney tree that produced it was exceptionally rare, not to mention exceptionally hard to cultivate. And though most had been destroyed by the ravages of time, the book said that there was at least one still left, hidden somewhere on that great mountain.
The young Humphrey was so enthralled by the possibility that there still might be some Chamney fruit out there somewhere pored over the book for hours, looking for some kind of detail that would lead him to it. Of course it was at that point that the store owner told him that this wasn’t a library and he would need to pay for that book.
Humphrey of course didn’t have the bits required and was promptly kicked out. But did this stop the gallant young colt? No! He would find that fruit and become a world renowned explorer in the process! Though it took him some time, he was eventually able to raise enough bits to buy the book. But alas, when he returned to the store he found that the book was gone! The store owner said that he had cleared out the back of the shop in order to put in some new material.
This was only a minor setback for our young hero, as he had a near photographic memory. That is to say he kinda remembered what it said about the fruit, and that was probably good enough. As he grew he kept searching for answers about the mysterious fruit, and though most ponies had no idea what he was talking about, some were able to give him nudges in the right direction.
Most could only give vague descriptions they had heard from others, nopony had anything concrete. He even tried to petition the royal sisters, but was never able to get a message through. Eventually ponies started to ignore him, labelling him as a loon, a kook trying to find something that didn’t exist. But now finally, after all his long years of searching he knew where to go.
An old stallion had pointed him towards the badlands, where he had heard the pony who had compiled the book lived. Humphrey had followed false leads before, but this one seemed to be the real deal. So he packed his bags, said goodbye to those ponies who could still stand to talk to him, and set off towards the unknown.
The further he went the more the air dried. Soon his lips became parched and cracked, and his hooves were caked with mud and mire. There wasn’t much water out in those wastes, and his own supply soon ran low. The days were blisteringly hot, but still there was relief in the quiet cool of the night. And though it was often quite lonely, he took comfort in knowing that he would finally be validated.
As he trotted further and further into the badlands he often thought back to the tales he had read as a colt. Those heroes of legend who risked everything to protect their friends and their land, and how much he had looked up to them. Perhaps when he finally found that tree he too would be remembered as a hero, someone who others would aspire to be like some day. This is what kept him going, and stopped him from giving up, as he was tempted to time and again.
At last he came upon the place he was looking for, a small cottage built next to a mountain. It was rustic in design and had a small garden growing carrots beside it. As he approached the door he wondered what he would say, how he would react to the pony who had made such an impact on his life. What strife that author must have gone through, gathering the tales of so many, across such a span! He could hardly fathom it.
And so he knocked. It was only then that he realized that he hadn’t wiped his hooves before he knocked. There was now a huge splotch of dirt on the door, and he had no way of wiping it off without spreading it further.
Before he could think of what to do he heard a rustling from the inside of the cottage. Slowly the wooden door creaked open, and standing there was one of the most ordinary looking ponies Humphrey had ever seen.
His coat was neat and tidy, and he wore a small pair of spectacles that seemed to always be about to fall off. The pony stood and stared at Humphrey for a long time, neither of them saying a word. Finally, Humphrey decided to break the silence. “Hello”, he said, not sure how to continue.
“Hello yourself”, replied the pony. “I came to ask you about a book you wrote.”, Humphrey explained, trying hard to sound proper. “Oh my book, you better come in.”, the pony stated before disappearing back into the cottage. Humphrey followed close behind as he was lead into a small study.
The inside of the cottage was quite homely, and soon some tea was prepared as they began to converse again. “I was wondering if you knew any more about the fruit of the Chamney tree.”, Humphrey said, getting right to the point as he was never one for dragging on a conversation.
“Oh of course, I know everything about the Chamney tree” , replied the pony, seeming quite pleased. “That was one of my favourite parts to write.” “What do you mean exactly?”, asked Humphrey, a possibility suddenly dawning on him.
“Oh well, it was so much fun thinking of all the different things it could do!”, the pony replied, “A miracle fruit that could cure any disease, and even things that are just unpleasant like bad breath. It might not have been the most creative idea, but I thought it was pretty neat!”
Humphrey sat aghast, not daring to ask the question that he knew he had to ask. “So, the Chamney fruit isn’t real, you just made it up? The book that I have been basing my life around was just a work of fiction?” The pony seemed to be taken back a bit, “Well of course! I didn’t expect anyone to take it seriously, I named the fruit after myself for goodness sake!” “You mean your name is Chamney?” Humphrey asked, scarcely believing what he was hearing. “Well yes” Chamney replied, “That might have been a bit self indulgent of me, but I couldn’t think of anything else to name it.”
Humphrey began to feel some anger rising in him. “I found your book in the back of a bookstore, all ratty and covered in cobwebs! I thought it was a collection of true stories, it had to be!” Chamney looked with a gaze which bordered on pity at Humphrey, “That book sold so poorly I could hardly give it away, it seems like ponies just don’t appreciate a good fantasy novel, always seem to think they are true accounts!” he replied, “I ended up just dropping them in bookstores all over Equestria, hoping it would get me some publicity. That didn’t really work out for me, as you can see.”
This was the last straw. “You crazy old coot! Why didn’t you tell me this before!”, he yelled. “Oh calm down.” Chamney replied, his grin returning, “You know you aren’t the first intrepid young adventurer to come looking for me.”
“I’m just a washed up old geezer now, would you begrudge me a little fun?” he finished, as he sipped down the last of his tea. Humphrey didn’t know what to do, everything he had worked for had vanished in an instant.“Would you care for some fruit?” Chamney said, offering a bowl full of apples. “No!”, Humphrey replied before composing himself. “I better get going.” he said, before getting up from the table.
“Wait!”, Chamney said, getting up as well. “Before you go I should tell you something.”
“What.”, Humphrey asked, as miffed as he had ever been before. “Well, there is a certain flower that really does cure a whole lot of diseases, I could give you a map to get to it, if you were up for it of course.”
“Is this a trick?”, Humphrey asked. “No this is the real deal, I would say that you’ve earned it, coming all this way.” Chamney replied, still grinning. Humphrey sighed. “Show me the map”