Without a Rhyme
Deep in the Everfree forest, a certain zebra stood over a large cauldron. She stood on her hind legs, grasping a long wooden stick in her forelegs and stirring it smoothly counterclockwise. The deep green liquid swirled within the cast iron depths, releasing a clean aroma into the air in the form of a light steam.
The zebra slowed her stirring and reversed direction, making a single clockwise churn of the brew that sent ripples of irregularity across the smooth surface. Withdrawing the stick and propping it against the handle of the cooking pot, she bent over low, taking a long, deep breath of the steaming liquid.
“Ah yes, my cleansing brew is almost complete—when it’s done it will prove, quite a feat.” Her voice filled the quiet domain, breaking the silence only previously disturbed by the bubbling of the cauldron.
Scooping up a much smaller spoon, she dipped it into cauldron and produced a small amount of the liquid, which immediately turned red with the separation from the rest. “So I see,” she mused quietly. “I need root of Everfree.”
She crossed swiftly to a clay pot atop a shelf near the far wall. Tilting towards her, the zebra produced a twisted brown root and carried it back over to the cauldron. The root sizzled and hissed as she dropped it into the mixture. Another quick round of stirring assured it was mixed throughout the brew evenly. Down came the spoon, and yet again, she examined the liquid, which now turned a golden yellow when separated.
“Ah yes, this is very good—now it will look, as good as it should.” She frowned, examining the liquid. “But now, a dash of salt for the taste—I had almost forgot it in my haste.” The zebra reached out and grasped a small pot in her mouth, bringing it over to the cauldron. She began to pour the white grains into the sweet-smelling brew with precise eye.
“Hey Zecora!” a shrill voice squealed as the front door flew open.
With a cry of surprise, the pot slipped from her mouth and fell into the cauldron with a small, ‘ploop.’
“Hey Zecora!” said a little yellow filly as she crossed the room, a crimson bow fitted in her mane. “What’re you doin’?”
Zecora backed away from the cauldron, eyes widening. The liquid inside had turned a blood-red and was now bubbling over the sides.
“W-what’s goin’ on?” the filly asked worriedly.
“Applebloom, my dear!” Zecora called, running over to the filly and pushing her to the floor. “Get down, you have much to fear!”
“Well, can’t ya’ stop it?” she fretted.
“To stop it, I am unable—for the salt has made it unstable!”
Applebloom glared. “What the hay could salt possibly do to a potion?” Her question was answered with a loud bang from the caudron. Piping hot potion and steam was hurled about the room, splashing the walls and scorching the ceiling. Miraculously, neither Zecora, nor Applebloom were struck.
“Whoa,” Applebloom whispered.
Zecora shook her head slowly. “Great fear, that struck in me—just one drop, and a cure you’d plea.”
Applebloom shuffled her hooves, looking around sheepishly at the now-devastated domain. “I’m really sorry about blowin’ your potion up, Zecora,” she said quietly.
Zecora cast a look around her home and sighed heavily. “Hush, it is okay little one.” The zebra hung her head. “Even if I was almost done,” she added under her breath.
“I-is there anythin’ ah can do to help?” the filly asked, looking genuinely sorry.
“No my dear—you are all clear.” She paused, thinking. “But tell me little one—what brings you here on the run?
Applebloom sat down and adjusted her bow. “Actually, it isn’t for me. Applejack wasn’t feelin’ too good, but it’s applebuck season an’ she can’t stop to take a break. She asked me to come down an’ see if ya had somethin’ that can cure a sickness; just a little somethin’ temporary.”
Zecora nodded in understanding. “I will see what I can do—but you may want to think it through.”
Applebloom cocked her head. “Well why do ya’ say that?”
Trotting up to a shelf, while avoiding the red potion on the floor, she began to rummage through her supplies. “Magical healing is no joke—one wrong move and it’s up in smoke.”
“What? You aren't healing her are you? You’re just making a potion to make her feel better.”
Zecora rolled her eyes at the young filly’s lack of understanding. “Applebloom, you have it wrong you see—curing sickness is healing; do you not agree?”
Applebloom cocked her head pondering the notion. “Well if you put it that way, it kinda’ makes sense.” She sat quietly and watched as Zecora bustled about her home., pulling things from shelves and wiping up the spilt liquid. “Say,” she said, looking for a conversation to break the awkward silence. “How’d ya’ learn to do that rhyme thing?”
The zebra flicked her tail. “What is this thing of which you speak?—my understanding appears, quite bleak.”
“See, ya’ just did it again. Every sentence rhymes with the other one. It’s a really neat trick.”
Zecora laughed. “It is not a trick, but from a faraway land—I obtained this dialect from, Zebraharan.”
Applebloom giggled, much to Zecora’s dismay. “Sorry,” she apologized hastily. “It just sounds so cool to listen to you talk.”
The zebra shot her a warning glance. “I am not a talking show—you should show respect, or you may go.”
“Ah’m sorry, Zecora.” Applebloom looked around quietly, trying to avoid the zebra’s gaze. “So, do ya’ have somethin’ that can help my sister?”
“I can assure you I do—it does not even need to brew.” Zecora pulled a small pot from a high shelf and set it on the ground before her.
Applebloom smiled from ear to ear. “Oh thank you so much Zecora.”
Zecora took the compliment with a brief nod. She bent down and produced a bright orange flower, it’s petals long and thin. “Here, take this flower of orange—with it, you shall be able...” She trailed off, feeling rather confused “Able to...” Her voice caught in her throat and she felt herself begin to dry-heave.
“Are ya’... okay, Zecora?”
The wise zebra opened her mouth, only to close it again. She tried to speak a second time, but only ended up looking like a fish out of water. Giving up, she shook her head frantically.
“Is there somethin’ ah’ can do?”
“Able... to...” she managed to choke, falling to her knees. The zebra climbed back to her hooves and staggered over to a bookshelf. She set to sifting through its contents, tossing books about with only a quick glance at the spines. After a moment, she found one that seemed to appeal to her needs and threw it open on the floor.
Applebloom peered around Zecora’s head as she flipped frantically through the pages of the book. “Is that a dictionary?”
Zecora did not reply. She flipped the pages frantically, tearing a few out in her haste. “No!” she cried, flopping over onto her side.
Applebloom raced forward. “What is it!?” Zecora pointed a shaky hoof at a single illustration on the page.
Pertaining to an orange; of the color of an orange.
II: Of a large juicy fruit with a reddish-yellow rind; also, the tree that bears it, or the color of the fruit.
Applebloom took note of the fine print below the word.
Orange: one of the very few words that does not rhyme with any other word in concise language.
The filly was struck with a sudden realization of what had just happened. “What’s the big deal? Can’t you just skip that word?”
Zecora writhed on the ground as if the question has caused her pain. “The rhyme must be complete—without it others will not repeat!”
“Hey, you rhymed again!” Applebloom declared happily.
The zebra cast a paranoid look around. “But it is short lived my Applebloom—without its completion, I shall meet my doom!” She picked herself up, trembling all over.
“You seem fine now,” Applebloom argued. “Just don’t say orange again.”
Zecora took a deep breath. “You are right, without orange, my speech will be silver—if only I could have...”
“No! Not again!” Applebloom cried, clamping he hoof over Zecora’s mouth, but it was too late. “Don’t think about it! Just don’t think about it Zecora!”
“I have... I can not...” She began to take panicked breaths, eyes nearly popping from her skull.
“Maybe if you—”
“Go!” Zecora howled suddenly. “Before you make me say purple!” she hurriedly clasped her hooves over her mouth. Rearing up, she drove her head into the bookshelf, again, and again, and again.
Applebloom backed away. “I’m sorry... I didn’t mean to...” A peculiar thought struck her. “Wait a minute, how can you be so obsessed with rhyming. Your own name doesn’t even rhyme with anything.”
The zebra froze, head inches away from the bookshelf. “Zecora,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. She swayed and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Slowly, the zebra keeled over and flopped to the floor like a sack of flour amidst the sea of spilt potion and spellbooks.
Applebloom backed towards the door. “Oh no! Ah just killed Zecora... with words!” backing out the doorway, she cast a nervous smile at the unconscious zebra. “Maybe ah can have Twilight, like, write words to rhyme with those ones.... Ah’ll be back in a little bit.”
She turned and bolted for the forest. “Oh, I hope Zecora doesn’t remember any of this when she wakes up!” Applebloom couldn't believe what she had just accidentally done. Maybe she could make Zecora better if she found a really good dictionary. She put on a determined boost of speed. “Where’s Sweetie Bell!?”
I'd like to give a huge thanks to Bronymaster for giving me this wonderful idea and helping me much so with editing.
If you read this, I just want to let you know that I had as much fun writing it as any of you may have had reading it.