Hello, everypony! This is Jerry, and this is my very first Christmas story! No flames, please!
Snow blanketed the ground outside the Golden Oaks Library, and everywhere else in Ponyville for that matter. Unlike many ponies, who were out playing in the snow, singing merry tunes to their neighbors, or just taking walks to enjoy the icy air and colorful decorations, the pony at this residence was planning to go into the Everfree Forest. Now, most ponies would not dream of such an idea, but this particular pony was Twilight Sparkle, bearer of the Element of Magic. However, she had a reason to go into the Everfree at this hour: she wished to see Zecora, a zebra she had befriended two years ago, to wish her a happy Hearth's Warming Eve. She had already paid the other Elements of Harmony a visit, so it only seemed fair to give the zebra the same treatment.
"Spike," Twilight said as she pulled on her winter clothing once again, "I'm going to Zecora's for a couple hours. Don't burn the house down while I'm gone."
Spike rolled his eyes. "Relax, Twi. I'm probably going to go to sleep in an hour anyway." The little dragon yawned, stretching his arms. "I'm bushed from that party Pinkie and Luna threw today."
The purple unicorn giggled, remembering Pinkie and Luna's antics. They had become fast friends since last Nightmare Night, to the point where they ended up pulling pranks on other ponies and each other weekly. Their pranking at the party, however, was certainly their best. Who knew Luna had the genius to spike the punch with rainbow extract and put red curry powder in the Cakes' well water? "Okay, Spike. If anyone knocks, politely answer the door and tell them I'm not in."
"Alright," Spike yawned. "I'll do that."
Twilight pulled on her hood and walked out the door. "Bye, Spike."
With that, Twilight shut the door behind her and set off to her destination. "Just where do you think you're going, Twilight?" a voice said from above.
The purple unicorn looked up: Rainbow Dash stood on a cloud, tapping her hoof to create gentle-falling snow. "Oh hey, Rainbow Dash. I was just going to see Zecora. Wanna come?"
The blue pegasus stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Why not? I haven't seen her in a while." She jumped from her cloud and landed next to her friend. "I wonder if she has family over like Applejack did this year."
Twilight shrugged. "Beats me. We're going to find out soon."
When they reached Zecora's tree hut, they were surprised to see only one light in the house, which showed through the back window. They could hear the zebra's faint voice indistinctly mumbling, as she often did while making potions. Twilight knocked. "Uh, Zecora? It's me, Twilight. I'm here with Rainbow Dash."
Silence hung in the air for a couple minutes, until the other lights in the hut turned on and the door opened. Zecora stood in the doorway, a warm smile on her face. "Welcome, welcome, my little ponies. Come inside, if you will please."
"Thanks, Zecora," said Rainbow Dash as she walked inside behind Twilight.
"So, what were you doing earlier?" asked Twilight. "It sounded like you were making another potion."
"Yeah, what gives?" Rainbow questioned. "And why were all the lights in your house turned off?"
Zecora smiled. "Another potion? Not tonight, I am afraid. Tonight is the night when I kneel down and pray."
Twilight cocked her head, curious to learn yet another of Zecora's strange customs. "Pray? Like worship a deity?"
The zebra nodded enthusiastically. "Two millennia ago, on this very day, a special Pony was born, fulfilling what the prophets of old had to say."
"What prophets? What's so special about this pony?" Rainbow Dash interrupted, but Twilight shushed her with a hoof.
"Go on, Zecora," said Twilight.
The zebra cleared her throat. "The story begins farther back than that. It began at the creation of the ground we tread on, in fact. At the start of this tale was the Great Father of All, Who made the tiny bacterium and the alicorns tall. The first two ponies He made, a mare named Mtoto and a stallion named Punda, He placed in an ever green garden and said "Take care of this, I trust ya." He gave them one rule and one rule alone: to eat of any green except the Forbidden Tree, which could poison and kill their very souls." Zecora sighed, turning to the cauldron and throwing a few random potions into it. Green smoke rose into the air, and scenes began to play out as the zebra continued her narrative. "A serpent, one of the Father's wicked ex-servants, hatched a plan to in this world make sprit-damning turbulence. He slinked up to the mare and goaded her to eat, likewise to the stallion, and the serpent's plan was complete. To evil, the ponies' eyes were opened, but once they recognized their mistake, the damage was done. It was already too late."
"Why would He put that tree there in the first place?" said Rainbow Dash.
"He gave them free will, and to exercise thereof, a risk had to be taken; it was to earn His creation's love."
Twilight now held a quill and a scroll, making note of everything she heard. Zecora's story fascinated her to no end. "What happened after that?"
"To make several volumes' worth of story short, the world fell into chaos of the most wicked sort. But the Great One had a plan, you see, to rescue His creation from being incinerated for all eternity. There are three parts to the Great One, to explain this properly: the Father, the Colt, and the Great Spirit, all one and the same, but also family. The only way to redeem His creation was to send the Colt to earth below, and have Him suffer to redeem all others' souls."
"And tonight was the night the Colt came down?" Twilight asked. "I thought you said He was born, like any other pony?"
Zecora's sad smile turned into a joyous grin, one that rivaled Pinkie Pie's. "He was indeed born of an earth pony mother, but conceived by the Great Spirit: her barrier was not yet torn asunder."
Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Twilight put down her pen and looked at her friend. "She means that the Colt was conceived by the Great Spirit before the mother lost her virginity."
Rainbow Dash's cheeks reddened slightly. "Oh. Um…p-please continue, Zecora."
Zecora nodded, chuckling a bit. "Strange as it sounds, Rainbow Dash, it is very true, and I am happy for that. Our sinfulness is transferred via the seed of our fathers: if the Colt had that, then to complete His task He had no powers. On this very night, the Colt was born into the world so weak and so frail, something to truly feel before, He had failed."
Twilight looked up from her second scroll to the image of the newborn Colt snuggled upon a pile of hay with His mother. For some reason, Twilight's eyes were slightly glassy. "Wow, Zecora," she said, her heart strangely fluttering and a lump at the back of her throat forming. "That's beautiful." She continued writing. "What happened after the Colt was born?"
"A perfect question, young Twilight," Zecora said, her grin widening by the second. "For thirty years He lived with budgets tight: like His mother's husband, a carpenter He became, but then He began to perform miracles like curing the blind and restoring the lame. He performed these acts without potions or magic at all, for He was an earth pony, and many did He enthrall."
Rainbow Dash looked closely at the smoky image of the Colt in the act of touching a paralyzed mare while a dozen or so more ponies watched. Her eyes then shifted the Colt's cutie mark: it was the shape of a teardrop inside the shape of a heart, and that was all there was. "What was His special talent?"
"Giving His love and giving His blood, young Rainbow Dash," Zecora replied. "His hide did His enemies bruise, whip, cut, and slash."
"Blood? Whipping and slashing?" both Twilight and Rainbow Dash gasped.
"Did… did He die?" the former asked.
Zecora's expression hardened. "Upon two wooden boards, they nailed Him by the fetlocks, and then on a hill they erected Him, spewing taunts and insults cross. He died not long after that grisly torture fest, but it was after His death that really put Him to the test. Into the fiery bowels of Tartarus He fell, and for three straight days he took the worst tortures of hell."
"That's horrible! What happened then?"
Zecora's grin returned. "He broke free of His dungeon, took the keys as well, and then came back to life to make sure we are saved from Hell. The Colt is up in Heaven, beyond even the Princesses' reach, with His Father and the Spirit: do you wish me more to teach?"
Rainbow Dash looked at the ground, then back at Zecora. "Can you tell me some more about this? I'd really, really like to know more."
Twilight put down her pen and rolled up the scrolls. "Is this story in any book you own, or is it an oral tradition?"
"Actually," said Zecora, "I can help you both with one answer, quite simply." She ran into her bedroom and returned with two thick books. "Merry Christmas, my little ponies, for there is one for each of you and me." She carefully placed them at her guest's feet and smiled. "Within those books are the story I've told you and many, many more. Read and you shall see that it is so much more than mere folklore."
Twilight opened her book and flipped through it. Oh yes, she would be looking into this for a while.