Where the wild roses grow
Dawn was breaking over Ponyville. The cool autumn breeze blew an array of golden purple leaves around the storefront, freshly dropped from now bare tree branches. Outside was a small troop of ponies, each one patiently waiting for Carousal Boutique to open its doors and allow entry inside to let each pony begin their shopping for Raritys new fall line. Contrary to past years punctual openings this morning the store still had its doors locked fifty minutes past it’s eight o’clock opening. The ponies outside weren’t just about to up and leave though, especially since the majority had arrived by rail specifically to get these new bridles and saddles. Amongst idle chatter about the beautiful color of the fall leaves and their vacation lodgings one dull orange Earth pony wrapped in a fleece coat wondered aloud the circumstances of the pony inside and her unusual absence…
“WHAH!” Rarity jerked her head off her work desk, sketches of dress’ that had glued themselves to her face gently falling to the desk. A pencil fell off her ear, clattering to the floor.
“Sorry!” apologized Sweetie Belle, grabbing the pencil and placing it on the desk.
Raritys horn flared to life, “It’s quite alright Sweetie,” the pencil levitated itself back into the small jar where she kept her sketching utensils, “Is something the matter?”
“No…well,” the little unicorn shifted nervously on her hooves “Uhm…”
“Spit it out darling! Is there a problem?”
“No, but I think you have custom-“
“CUSTOMERS!?” screeched Rarity. She darted over to the dresser, combs and curling irons levitating to attention. “Goodness gracious to think I was up all night again poring over my…never mind,” she glanced over at Sweetie Belle “Would you…like to help me out?”
Sweetie Belle gasped, “Really? OOH OOH! What can I do?”
“Head down to the ground floor. Turn on all of the lights. Switch the closed sign to open. Once you hear me coming down you can unlock the front door. Can you do this Sweetie?”
“YOU BET!” Sweetie saluted her sister, then bounded out the room. Rarity sighed, magically straightening out her purple hair and letting them twist into their coily strands. It was completely irresponsible of her to forget about the autumn sale she held every year. To her own credence she had been distracted by a wholly remarkable book.
The book in question, a slim jet-black tome with a golden strand of a bookmark, glowed turquoise and gingerly floated over to her. Rarity turned her attention to it, the title shimmering a brilliant silver cursive. With a quick flip she had open the last page of the book. Inside was the portrait of a handsome dark blue stallion, his long, luscious mane framing his proud visage. The mirthful expression on his face only served to make Raritys heart melt as she stared into his deep golden eyes.
“I’ll show you my designs soon,” she whispered quietly. “I’ve got a ticket to Trottingham to come meet you. I’ve drawn so much from your work. You inspire me so. The commentary on trends, your insights on fashion…”
“RARITY I’M READY!” cried Sweetie Belle from downstairs. The shout caught her by surprise, and the book fell to the floor.
“Coming! Sweetie!” she yelled (faintly) down the stairwell. Rarity delicately lifted the text back to its spot on her work desk. Next week would come soon enough. As of now there were sales to be attended to. She smiled as she walked downstairs to her patiently waiting customers, the title of the book surfacing quickly in her mind.
Fashion comes first.
“That’s a jolly fine bonnet atop your noggin miss! Is it a piece from one of Montagues collection?” asked a grey colt, giving her a smile.
Rarity smiled back “The design alludes to Windmere Silvertrots original sketches on headwear but no, this happens to be one of MY original designs.”
“Ah! A lovely mare such as yourself! Pardon my lack of foresight, I should have realized right off the bat that you are a high class designer!” he respectfully tipped his black bowler hat.
Rarity giggled “Oh do stop I…appreciate the compliment,” the train rattled along the rails, grinding to a halt.
“ROTHSGUARD! NEXT STOP EMMERY HILL!” blared the conductor from the front. Rarity glanced at her ticket, the letters ‘EH’ printed in black typeface near the snipped rectangular edge.
“In town for business or pleasure miss?” continued the colt politely after the train slowly began to lurch forwards.
“A little of both if I can find the time. I’ve left my little sister back home in Ponyville under the care of a good friend of mine. A little filly like her has no interest coming along on such a droll excursion. I rather doubt she has any concern for the stallion I’m meeting either. It’s one appointment I simply cannot be late for,” said Rarity briskly.
The colts’ ears drooped, but otherwise remained chipper “Ah! Good to hear you are keeping the youth in mind. Always a darned shame when you read in them papers about neglect innit?”
“Quite,” said Rarity, keen on having the conversation over with. The colt obliged, remaining silent as she shifted her eyes out to the window.
The setting sun cast a pallid orange glow to the worn cobblestone of Hoofingtons streets, the train cars moving along at a steady pace. The spires of the distant clocktower were tinged with orange, as was the clock face itself being lit up like a fiery lamp due in part to the sunlight bouncing off the alabaster surface. Rarity drank it all in, the beautiful town was something she could stand to live in had she ever had cause to move away from Ponyville. Absently she floated her book, flipping though the pages until she arrived at the photograph of her dream stallion pictured on the last page.
“EMMERY HILL! NEXT STOP CLOVEN HEIGHTS!” the conductor announced in his usual loud monotone.
“I’ll see you soon…” she whispered to the picture, the grey colt seated across from her raising an unseen eyebrow.
Emmery Hill was beautiful as Silvertrot had described. The winding trail that snaked through the park was punctuated by beautiful marble sculptures of ponies, colorful murals depicting tasteful scenes from history, tall proud maple trees bearing golden leaves and a plethora of ornate of ornate fountains spitting the clearest water Rarity had ever seen.
Rarity appreciated the sights, but she didn’t stop at Emmery Hill to play distracted tourist. She had a destination in mind. A pony to meet.
“Pardon me!” she called over to an old goat gently pruning a hedge sculpture with his teeth “Do you happen to know where I can find Treachers Hollow? It’s not marked here on the pamphlet…”
“Oh-HO! Headin’ to the hallah eh?” bleated the goat. He waggled his eyebrows “Yah kinda old to be snoggin’ under the waterfall aint’cheh?”
Raritys complexion went from alabaster white to tomato red instantly, blue eyes narrowing into tiny pinpricks.
“Come…again?” she hissed through gritted teeth.
If looks could kill the gardener would have been vaporized on the spot from the intensity of that glare. The goat balked, suddenly wishing he hadn’t implied the things he just did.
“Uhuh, eheh, jes’ uh, beyond the bend back thar where, uh, the wild roses grow. Pleasure to meetcha!” he stammered gesticulating behind her, then turning tail and bolting out of sight.
Rarity harrumphed, stamping a hoof into the ground. She resolved to pay the park employees a visit later to give them a piece of her mind. It made no sense to explode over a silly old goat. Turning to where the goat was pointing she could make out a small cluster of red rose poking out from a patch of dark green grass. There was a small rocky outcrop nearby that nearly blended in with the stone protrusion behind it. Rarity smiled; at last she would meet her dream stallion.
The grove was picturesque. The small waterfall in the corner rushed vigorously down a quartet of broken boulders into a clear blue pool that filled a quarter of the hollow. The sunlight trickled through the twisted oak perched above the hollows open roof, casting mottled shadows over the multitude of wild roses growing from the loosely packed soil. Rarity scrunched her nose at the empty Sarsaparilla bottles littering the ground in various spots. Clearly this patch of the park was not given much attention. Rarity tutted to herself, then spotted her dream stallion in the corner of the grove, right by the gangly roots of the old oak.
Her heart stopped, her mouth felt dry. Rarity pulled the text out of her embroidered saddlebag. The picture matched the face she was looking at.
Rarity gulped “Hello Windmere, it’s so nice to finally meet the Pegasus pony that spearheaded fashion in the modern direction.”
She walked over to the roots, ever careful to not accidently crush a rose under her hoof.
“You…a visionary. Somepony that completely understands color theory down to a ‘T’. There’s many more colts involved in fashion nowadays. As such your later designs have achieved much notoriety and there are to this day many colts and mares who strive to mimic them as closely as possible.” Rarity reached the roots, sitting down on the soft grass that grew there.
“Most of them don’t even remember your name…”
The obsidion caricature of Windmere Silverhoof smiled back at her, his thin lips pursed knowingly, as if his answers were on the tip of his tongue and he would speak at any moment. Rarity took out a rag, pushing the drink cup off the silver top of the gravestone and wiping it clean of dirt.
“I do. When I was just starting out I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing…I-I had know what I wanted to achieve. Where those goals were…but despite all my experimenting I lacked good direction, proper construction of materials and a way to design something that didn’t involve drowning it in gemstones,” she said with a slight chuckle in her voice.
With a flick of her horn she finished polishing the tombstone. There were no words inscribed save for Windmere’s stylized signature below his face. Rarity admired it, even now his mantra of simplicity in style rung true.
“I drowned myself in your works. All of your recorded addresses, published work, every editorial. If it weren’t for you I may have never gotten my head out of the ground,” she sniffed, feeling her eyes watering. “It would have taken my ages to get where I am now, you helped me open my eyes.”
Rarity leaned forwards, pressing her lips to the cool black stone, for only a second, then drawing away.
“I only wish that you hadn’t departed so early, so that this one unicorn could have had the pleasure of your company,” she said quietly “To say thank you, to the handsome Pegasus that guided my needle through the threads of my life.
A tear rolled down her cheek, onto the black book she had brought with her. Rarity didn’t wipe it away. She sat there in the grove, staring quietly at the tombstone. Celestias sun slid further down the horizon, giving way to a pink sky amongst the first glittering stars of the evening. Darkness overcoming the grove, the squattish memorial practically disappeared into the inky background. Rarity breathed easy, picking up the thin black book that had led her to her stallions early workspace. She trotted over to the exit, shooting a parting glance to the memorial. Rarity smiled, thankful that she had taken the time to finally spend with her greatest idol.
Leaving the grove she vowed to return one day, knowing all it would take was one train ticket, and an attentive eye to follow the wild roses growing in the cove.