The Glimmering Gardener

by ArgonMatrix

Bonus: The Star-Meadow Tournament

The Star-Meadow Tournament would go down in history as one of Princess Twilight Sparkle’s most significant undertakings. It was a competition designed to gather the best and brightest magicians of the world’s many cultures in one place where they would compare and combat their magicks against one another, someone ultimately coming out as the Star-Meadow Champion. The tournament was about more than just glory, though. Unification and harmony were the ultimate goals. Bringing together so many different communities under one common goal would enable collaborations, advance magical understanding, and inspire great friendships.

Mango Leaf didn’t care much about any of that, though. All he knew was that this might be his only chance at learning whether dragons liked froyo.

He’d set up shop in one of the many vendor’s lots in the park surrounding Canterlot Stadium—where the main events would be held. In Mango’s eyes, it was a perfect storm. A high-traffic area, a blistering summer day, and packed crowds of ponies and griffons and every species under the sun, most of whom had probably never even heard of frozen yogurt? It was paradise for his froyo-lovin’ heart.

Or it would’ve been paradise had he not made the unfortunate mistake of starting up sales just as the opening ceremony got underway. Everyone who wasn’t in the stadium watching it live had their eyes glued to the Jumbo Magicasters set up outside, where a beaming Princess Twilight could be seen stepping up to the podium.

“Good afternoon, everyone!” boomed the princess’s voice. “And welcome to the very first ever Star-Meadow Tournament!” Applause thundered so forcefully, Mango reckoned the rumbling could give a Haywaiian earthquake a run for its money.

“I’d like to start by thanking all the delegates of the many nations represented here today,” the princess continued. “Your cooperation and eager participation in this event has been invaluable in its success. When I first proposed the idea of the Star-Meadow Tournament to my mentor, Princess Celestia, I couldn’t have dreamed…

Mango tuned out the broadcast as a colourful group of creatures passed his wagon. “Aloha, dudes and dudettes! Welcome to Mango Leaf’s bodacious froyo empire! Prepare to have your taste buds rocked so hard, your children’s buds will get chills.” He focused on a stocky little dragon. “I’ve got just the blend for you, brah. Check out this dragonfruit and tabasco—”

“Grundle no care,” the dragon growled. “Grundle need bathroom, or Grundle set stadium on fire.”

Mango blinked. “Uh, yeah. Radical!” He realized that none of the passersby had even slowed down, and he reached out to one at random. He hooked a slender cow with his hoof and said, “How ‘bout it, cuz? Wanna—”

“Sorry,” she said, pulling away. “I’m lactose intolerant.”

“What? How does that even—” Mango shook his head. “Alright, whatevs.” He panned his eyes through the crowd and located a tall, emperor penguin. “Hey, featherbro! I bet you like cold things, yeah? How’d you like to give my classic BSM a go?”

The penguin raised an eyebrow. “Good sir, are you insinuating that I have a proclivity towards ice-based treats for the sole reason that I am an arctic-dweller?”

Mango blanched. “Uh… yeah?”

With a haughty scoff, the penguin crossed his arms and said, “Well, of all the barbaric, stereotypical mindsets to have! I was led to believe this event had been organized to promote equality and understanding, not ignorance of the umpteenth degree! I’ll have you know that my most favoured dish is actually warm potato quiche, a recipe passed through penguin history since as early as the rule of King Charlatan. Although I’m guessing your icicle-laden brain has never heard of King Charlatan either. For your information…”

At some point during the penguin’s hour-long tirade, Mango realized this probably wouldn’t be his most profitable day.


Ultimately, Mango had actually managed to send the penguin away with a plain frozen yogurt, which the creature had seemed to enjoy, at least. After another hour without sale though, Mango closed up with a sigh. Everyone seemed too enamored with the opening ceremony to bother looking twice at his wares. Their loss, as far as he was concerned.

He slumped to the ground outside his wagon with a cup of agave froyo. Up on the Magicaster, Mango could see the ceremony was still in process—an elk was weaving a web of light in its horns. He’d barely paid the tournament any attention. Honestly, he hardly cared—he’d just wanted to share his froyo love with the masses. At a lack of anything else to do, though, he settled in and actually started watching.

The broadcast panned over to Princess Twilight, who said, “Thank you, Mustok of Elkenheim, for that illuminating performance. Best of luck!” She flipped to her next cue card. “Up next, please welcome Duchess Debonnaire to the stage, here to announce her pick for the Elmshire representative.”

Another round of applause shook the stadium as the duchess took center-stage. To Mango’s surprise, she was actually another pony for once. She wore a conservative, grey dress and had her mane up in a tight bun, yet she looked just a scooch younger than Princess Twilight. “Let your mane down, hun,” Mango mumbled.

“Thank you, Princess,” the duchess said. “When I was asked to choose a single pony to represent all of Elmshire in this most prestigious of tournaments, there was only one pony who came to mind. She’s humble, she graduated at the top of our class, and she has hooves-down one of the most unique talents I’ve ever witnessed. Coming now to dazzle you with her very own creation, the dynasty lotus, I am honoured to present you my best friend, Lilligold!”