• Published 1st Feb 2014
  • 635 Views, 4 Comments

The Flower of the Forest - Xenium



While researching an odd, magical flower that just recently began appearing in the Everfree Forest, Twilight finds a mysterious creature—a human girl named Lila.

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Chapter One—The White Flower

The sound of leaves crunching against the ground greets your ears with every step as you navigate your way through the dark and mysterious Everfree Forest.

Zecora came to the library yesterday afternoon looking for information on weird flowers that began appearing around her home just recently. Interestingly enough, the sample she brought was withered and dying by the time she got to you. You found nothing of use even in your vast collection of books, so you offered to look into them yourself. Zecora advised against it, mentioning the mysterious feeling they gave off, but that only made you want to go even more as you’ve been dying to explore the forest. She gave you directions, drew a sketch of the flowers, and you went on your way the very next morning.

A yawn brings your attention to the baby dragon sitting atop your back. “Are we there yet?” he asks, rubbing his eyes.

“No, Spike, but it shouldn’t be much longer. Just be glad I’m not making you walk.”

He humphs. “Yeah, yeah. So what are we doing here, again?” he asks, shifting his body in an attempt to find a comfortable position.

“I told you on the way here. We’re getting plant samples!” you say excitedly.

“…And why exactly did I have to come?”

You arrive at a split in the main path of the forest. Following the information Zecora provided, you go left. “I didn’t want to go alone, and it’s early in the morning so I didn’t want to bother any of the girls.”

“But you’re perfectly fine with bothering me?”

“Yep! You are my assistant, after all.”

“But I could be sleeping right now…” he mutters.

“Oh come on, it won’t even take that long! Besides, you’re here to protect me from any scary forest beasts!” You say that last part with a hint of sarcasm.

He doesn’t seem to pick up on it. “Really?”

“Of course.”

He doesn’t say anything, but you feel him moving around on your back, probably trying to find a ‘scary forest beast’. Fortunately, aside from a few odd sounds and the feeling of constantly being watched that comes with being in the Everfree, the rest of the walk there is uneventful. You spot several different flowers along the way, but don’t find anything that matches the sketch.

The two of you eventually arrive at a clearing that’s absolutely filled with odd-looking white flowers. Holding up the sketch, you confirm that these are the flowers Zecora wanted you to check out. There are so many that you can’t even see the ground beneath them. It might just be some of the morning light seeping through the roof of the forest, but you notice a faint glow around the flowers. You cautiously walk further into the clearing, not wanting a repeat of the Poison Joke incident. When you’re close enough to the flowers, you pick one with your magic and bring it to your face. Upon closer inspection, you don't notice anything out of the ordinary aside from faint traces of an odd magic that you don’t recognize around it. This must have something to do with what Zecora was talking about!

Spike tries to get off of your back but fails, falling to the ground with an oomph.

“Now isn’t the time to be laying down, Spike!”

He gives you a deadpan look before rolling his eyes. “Are these the flowers we came here for?” he asks, reaching for one.

“Don’t!” You stop his claw before he can touch one. “We don’t know what they do just yet. But yes, these are the ones.”

“They look normal to me.”

“Yes, it seems that way, but something feels… off about them. Hmm...” You return to the flower suspended in the air, getting an idea. With a blast of your magic, the flower catches fire. It last a few seconds before completely burning out. They burn just like normal flowers, too. You perform similar tests on a few more of the flowers, but they all yield the same result—absolutely nothing.

“Well, that’s disappointing…” you mutter.

Just as you’re about to hit a flower with an ice spell, Spike suddenly speaks up. “Uh, Twilight?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Did you hear that?”

“Huh?” you ask, listening out but not hearing anything out of the ordinary. “Hear wh—”

Something rustles towards the end of the clearing, behind the trees.

“What do we do?” Spike whispers worriedly.

“Nothing,” you answer, no longer worried. “Any kind of predator wouldn’t just give its presence away like that. It’s probably just a rabbit or something.” You go back to what you were doing.

As you go to pick another flower for experimentation, you notice something strange. The flowers towards the end of the clearing where the sound came from are a different color, almost… yellow?

It’s subtle, but there’s definitely a change. Intrigued, you walk toward them. It isn’t until a few seconds later that you realized you just walked straight through the patch of flowers. A blush forms on your face. Standing still for a moment, you wait for any effects to surface. Fortunately for you, none do, and you return to walking. You watch, perplexed as a wave of yellow slowly but surely spreads from the end of the clearing outwards. Before you can get close enough to one of the yellow flowers, though, a quiet, high-pitched yelp stops you. You hear more shuffling, and then the sound of something hitting the ground.

“Who’s there?” As soon as you ask that, you hear a whimper. “I’m not going to hurt you,” you say, trying to sound as gentle and nonthreatening as you can. You get some more shuffling in response. “Come on out.”

With wide eyes, you watch as… something sticks its head out from behind a tree.

That's definitely not a rabbit.

You don’t recognize it at all. It has a very messy mane—if that’s even what you’d call it—that covers most of its face, but that’s all you can really see with the rest of its body hidden in the cover of the forest. It slowly inches away from the tree.

Before you get a chance to observe anything else about it, Spike rather loudly speaks up, “Woah, what are you?” His sudden and noisy question startles the critter, making it jump back behind the trees.

At that exact moment, a bright flash lights up the whole clearing, making you cover your eyes with a hoof. When you can finally see again, you quickly notice that all of the flowers in the clearing are now a vibrant yellow, and you watch with wide eyes as a thick, similarly-colored powder rises from them.

“What in—” is all you can get out before a tingling sensation overtakes your whole body and you find yourself completely unable to move.

Your legs give out and you fall to the ground with a thump. You hear two similar thumps and assume both Spike and the creature also fell, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t move your head to confirm that.

What in the world is going on? Several minutes pass as your mind races, trying—and failing—to come up with an explanation.

Your frantic train of thoughts is eventually derailed by the feeling of something slowly crawling up the side of your head. You panic as whatever it is inches closer and closer to your face. Before long, you have a large centipede resting on your muzzle and looking directly into your eyes with a hellish glare. Every single leg on the insect leaves a horrifying tingling feeling throughout your entire body.

Your mouth opens, but just before the scream leaves your mouth, the insect enters it. Oh sweet Celestia!

Jumping up, you spit the monstrous bug out of your mouth and run as quickly as you possibly can away from it. Once you reach a satisfactory distance away, you stop to catch your breath. You spit out frantically in an attempt to rid your tongue of any traces of the insect.

…And that’s when it hits you.

“I can move again!” An embarrassed blush forms on your face and you’re suddenly glad Spike isn’t here to make fun of you. Once you’ve regained your composure, you head back to the clearing. It takes a longer than you expected. I guess I ran a little further than I thought.

When you reenter the clearing, you immediately stop. “What…?” you ask to nopony in particular. In that short amount of time, the mysterious flowers all turned back to the pure white they were when you first arrived. Looking around, you see Spike lying on the ground close to the edge of the clearing. “Lounging around on the job again, I see?” you ask with a smile as you walk over, not really expecting an answer.

You see the animal lying on the ground just barely out of the cover of the forest. Making good use of the opportunity, you get a closer look. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. A tattered white cloth that looks slightly reminiscent of a dress covers most of its body, and the parts it doesn’t cover are caked in dirt. It has four long, skinny, and hairless limbs. At the end of each limb are claws that look a lot like Spike’s, though they seem longer and more dexterous. Upon closer inspection, you spot several small cuts and bruises along its body. The poor thing doesn’t look like it’s in very good condition at all.

With a frown, you look back to Spike. He’s still lying on the forest floor, motionless. What do I do…?

You could leave it, but it doesn’t look like anything that belongs in the forest. It’s hurt, and from the looks of it, you assume it hasn’t seen much food in months. There’s no way something should be that skinny.

Suddenly, the animal twitches, the paralysis apparently wearing off. Realizing it can move, it immediately shoots up and tries to run out of the clearing. In the back of your mind, you take note of the fact that it stood up on two legs.

“Wait!” you call out.

It doesn’t get very far before losing its balance, falling, and hitting the ground hard. You run over to see if it’s okay, but as you get close it lets out a frightened scream. It tries once more to get away, but this time you stop it by surrounding it with a bubble of magic.

It runs into the bubble and falls down with an “oomph.” It looks around frantically, then jumps back up and starts banging on the bubble.

Much to your surprise, it speaks. “L-let go of me!” it says, fear evident in its voice. You notice its voice has a very feminine sound to it.

“Only when you calm down,” you say, but it doesn’t seem to listen to you. As it continues to bang on the walls of the bubble, you notice the flowers around the two of you once again have a hint of yellow in them.

“I’m not here to hurt you. You need help,” you say with a frown, glancing at its frail-looking body.

“I don’t need your help,” it mutters before trying even harder to break free.

The weird animal finally gives up and falls to its knees, dropping to the ground with its arms outstretched. For a time, the silence of the forest is broken only by the creature's heavy breathing as it lie in the patch of flowers and gazing towards the sky. It reaches a claw up to its neck and grasps a necklace that you didn’t notice until just now, holding it in front of its face. After a few seconds of staring at it, its head turns back to you, looking at you upside-down.

“What are you?" it asks. "And what is this thing around me?”

“I’m a pony. Well, to be precise, a unicorn. My name is Twilight Sparkle, and that’s a magic barrier I made to keep you from running away.”

It opens its mouth to respond but says nothing, returning to staring at the roof of the forest.

Your turn to ask. “What are you? Do you have a name?”

“A unicorn…? Magic?” it asks quietly, ignoring your questions. “Those aren’t real. And horses can’t talk,” it comments, more to itself than to you.

“Huh? I have a horn,” you point to your horn with a hoof, “and I’m talking to you right now.” Silence. “Now, again, what are you?”

It hesitates for several seconds before finally answering, “I’m, uh… a girl?” it answers, sounding uncertain.

“And your name?”

It sits up, placing its arms on the ground behind it and leaning on them. “My name is Lila.”

Well, that name definitely isn’t from around here.

“Do you know what these flowers are?” you pick up a flower and hold it up with your magic.

Lila jumps back in surprise, she. “H-how are you doing that?”

“Doing what…?” you ask, looking around for anything out of the ordinary you might be doing that you haven't noticed.

“The flower!” she answers, pointing with a claw at the flower still suspended in the air.

“Oh, that?” You move the flower up and down in response. “That’s just basic telekinetic magic.”

“Just… what?” she asks, confused. “That can’t be magic. Magic isn’t…” she trails off, confused.

“What do you mean? I’m using magic right now.” You move the flower slightly to prove it.

“But…” Lila stares at the flower with her mouth slightly agape. Well, you say stare, but you honestly can’t tell with the long, matted hair covering most of her face.

A low, rumbling sound interrupts you. You look around, searching for the source. Your ears lead you to where the odd creature named Lila sits inside the magic barrier, grasping its stomach.

“Um, s-sorry…” she says, embarrassed.

“When was the last time you ate?” you ask, already pretty much knowing the answer.

“I, uh… I don’t remember?”

Her stomach growls once again, this time longer and much louder. If you didn’t know any better, you would mistake it for a snarling manticore. Lila looks around, confused. “What was that?”

“You mean… That wasn’t you?” Spike asks, mirroring your thoughts.

“Oh no.” Low growls echo through the trees once more, confirming your suspicions. Only this time, closer and much louder. “We need to get out of here. Now!”

Dispersing the barrier around Lila, you run in and push Spike closer to you. If she wasn’t so terrified, she’d probably try to run again. The flowers surrounding the three of you are once again yellow, but that's the least of your worries right now as you concentrate your magic. Just as something bursts through the trees and into the clearing with a deafening roar, the three of you disappear in a bright flash light.

You reappear just outside of the forest with another flash.

“Where did that even come from?” Spike asks as he plops down onto the ground, shaking his head.

“You... know... how it is... in that place,” you manage to get out between breaths. Teleporting more than one pony at a time can be pretty tiring. Let alone a dragon and whatever Lila is. Speaking of which…

“Lila, what’s wrong?” Spike asks, worry evident in his voice.

You look over and see Lila on her knees, clutching her stomach in pain. You run to her side. “Are you okay?”

She tries to speak, but rather than her voice coming out, the contents of her stomach do.

Both you and Spike look away as she vomits onto the grass and a foul stench greets your nose. You try to take away as much of the weariness as you can with a spell.

When she finally regains control of herself, she weakly stands up and asks, “What was that…? We were just in the forest, but now we’re not...”

“I’m sorry, Lila. I had to get us out of there or we might’ve been manticore food. I just forgot that teleportation can be a bit… disorienting for the first few times.”

“What did you just say...?” she asks in disbelief.

“Manticore food?”

She shakes her head. “After that.”

“Disorienting?”

"Before that."

"Teleportation?”

She nods.

“What about it? Transporting somepony from point A to point B instantaneously. It’s a bit more advanced than just moving stuff around, though."

“But, that’s…” Lila’s voice trails off as she falls to the grass, hitting it with a light thud.

“Lila!”

Spike runs to her and shakes her, but she doesn't respond. “What do we do?” he asks, still shaking Lila.

Was teleportation so surprising to her that she fainted…?

“We’re gonna take her to the library,” you answer as you lift her limp body up with your magic. “Well, actually, I’m going to. I need you to go see if Fluttershy is home. Hopefully she can help me figure out what in the world we’re dealing with.”

“Okay!” he nods enthusiastically and runs off in the direction of Fluttershy’s cottage, leaving just you and the unconscious body floating limply in front of you.

You decide to take the long route to your tree home, hopefully avoiding anypony that might be out and about and not causing any scenes. It’s still pretty early, but there’s bound to at least be a few townsponies awake.

When you finally arrive, you go to your room and gently lower Lila onto one of the beds. The poor girl is in bad shape. Her pale, hairless skin is bruised and cut all over, and her mane is dry and crusty with dirt. The grey cloth covering her looks old and worn out, ripped in several places and covered in even more dirt. If anything, she could definitely use a good washing. You’ve never seen anything like her, but you don’t have to to see that her limbs are unhealthily skinny. They are, almost literally, skin and bones.

Lila stirs, letting out a faint grunt. As she does, a glint of light brings your attention to the necklace you saw earlier. You get close and notice there are words on it, but it looks to be in some language you don’t know. Something to ask about later, you suppose.

Leaving the room for just a moment, you grab a quill, parchment, and a book titled Equestrian Bestiary of Legendary Creatures, and go right back in. Looking over Lila’s unconscious form, you start taking notes and comparing your observations to several listings in the book. Unfortunately, you can’t find anything useful before Spike’s voice interrupts you.

“Hey, Twilight? Where are you? I brought Fluttershy.”

“I’m in my room!” you yell back, putting the book and your notes aside for now.

You hear the sound of claws and hooves against wood as the two of them enter. Fluttershy brought a bag with her, but you can’t see what’s in it.

“Hello, Twi—Oh my!” Fluttershy exclaims once she sees Lila.

“Yeah, I think that’s a proper reaction,” you chuckle.

“Is it okay?” she asks, concerned.

“No, it doesn’t look like it. I don’t think she’s eaten much and she looks hurt pretty badly. I was hoping you could help me figure out what she is. Any ideas?”

“Oh, it’s a she? No, I’ve… I’ve never seen anything like her! Well, I guess she’s kind of similar to a monkey? But there isn’t enough hair…”

“If you’ve never seen a species before, it has to be pretty uncommon… Earlier, she made it seem like she didn’t have magic where she’s from. I wonder where that could be…?”

Almost as if she’s responding to your question, Lila stirs again.

“Huh…?” she sits up. “Where am—” As soon as she sees you, Spike, and Fluttershy, she lets out a little yelp and scoots to the end of the bed furthest from you.

“Oh, you poor thing…” Fluttershy says, walking closer to the bed. “How did you get so hurt?”

“I’m f-fine,” Lila tries to scoot a little further but realizes she’s already at the end of the bed and almost falls.

“We need to get you washed up before I can address your wounds.”

Fluttershy dumps the contents of her bag, a few rolls of bandages and other miscellaneous first-aid supplies falling out. “Spike, could you go get me a rag, a few towels, and some water?”

“Of course! I’ll be right back,” he says and runs out of the room.

“Can I ask you a few questions?” Fluttershy asks the girl. Lila nods.

"Do you have a name?"

The girl nods. "Lila."

“Spike said they found you in the Everfree Forest. Is that where you got all these boo-boos?”

Lila nods again. “That place was scary, and I kept falling when I tried to run away.”

Fluttershy frowns. “I’ll make it all better, don’t you worry. None of those scary forest monsters can get you here,” she says with a friendly smile.

For the first time since you met her just an hour or two ago, Lila smiles. It’s faint, but it’s there. “Thanks,” she says in an almost-whisper.

“Lila,” you speak up, “in the forest when I asked you what you were, you said ‘a girl.’ That’s your gender. What’s your species?”

“Species?” Lila asks, confused.

“A species is a group subordinate to a genus and containing indivi—” At Lila’s continued confusion, you stop yourself, a blush quickly forming. “It’s what you are. For example, like I said earlier, I’m a pony. Well, a unicorn, but that’s a type of pony. Now what are you?”

You can see it click in her mind. “Oh! I’m a human.”

“Human…?”

Before you can ask any other questions, Spike comes back with a bucket in one claw and towels in the other. “Here you go,” he says, giving them to Fluttershy.

“Thanks.” The yellow mare places a towel down on the floor and turns to Lila. “Can you stand on this for me? I don’t want to get the bed wet.”

With a nod, Lila complies. You couldn’t really tell before, but Lila is about the same height as Fluttershy, maybe slightly taller.

Fluttershy reaches a hoof to Lila and moves her mane out of her face, and you can hear the crust in it cracking. You walk to get a closer look, curious about what her face looks like. Her eyes are light, frosty gray with a piercing, confrontational gaze that doesn't fit the rest of her demeanor. You find yourself staring in wonder for several seconds before Fluttershy speaks up.

“Can you take those clothes off?” she asks. “It would make things easier.”

Immediately, the visible part of Lila’s face turns bright red. She shakes her head frantically. Fluttershy and Spike glance at you, and you shrug.

“Oh, alright. Well, in that case, hold out your arm, please.”

As Fluttershy grasps the rag in her mouth and starts to clean Lila, you turn to Spike. “If you two need any help, just call for me. I’m going to go do some more research.” Spike nods, and you exit. You can’t help but feel like you forgot something, but you push the thought aside.

As you walk, you think to yourself. You’ve never seen or heard the word “human” before, and you’ve gone through every book in your library at least once! When you get to the main room, you look around. Countless books adorn the various shelves, and a ladder leans against the wall. You can't help but feel proud to watch over such a collection of knowledge. With a smile, your horn glows and you get to work.

Several books come out of their places, floating over to you and passed your face as you sort through them.

How to Train Your Monkey

“Nope.”

Flowers Weekly

“Perhaps.” You place it to the side, reminded of the flowers from earlier.

Dressing up Dolls 101

“No.”

So Your Dragon has a Crush

“…This could be useful,” you say to yourself, a certain white mare coming to mind. You place it aside to be looked at later.

Several other books are judged, and pretty soon you have a sizable pile of research material. The irrelevant books all go back to the spots in which they belong, and you start your refined search.

“Human, human…” you repeat as you look through the books page by page, word by word for any mention of the word. You go through every single book in the pile, disappointed more and more each time you reach the end of a book and find nothing pertaining to Lila or the flowers. You reach the last page of the last book and you can't help but sigh.

As you ponder where to look next, Spike enters. “Twilight, you should probably get in there.” You run into the room, your baby dragon assistant close behind.

When you get there, you immediately freeze. I knew I forgot something! Lila’s sitting at the edge of the bed, holding the bestiary you were looking at earlier. It’s flipped to the last page, and… are those tears?

“Lila, what’s wrong?” You glance at Fluttershy and Spike, and both of them are frowning.

“Dad…” she says, quietly, showing you the book. Dad...? Taking it with your magic, you get a closer look. On the page is a picture and a few words. In the picture is an odd, yet somehow familiar creature standing next to… “Princess Celestia?!” The pictured animal is another biped with extremely similar features to Lila. It stands in the throne room with the Princess, the two of them smiling wide for some unknown reason.

The page reads, “Jonathan R. Anonymous, species: human.”

“Spike, take a letter…”

Author's Note:

As those of you who have have read this story before will know, this is a rewrite of the original first chapter. Thanks for reading.

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Comments ( 4 )

I knew faving this would be worth it.

5733817
Thanks for sticking with it! Sorry it took so long, but hopefully I can get back into a decent schedule.

This was an interesting little read, I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this.

Did...Did you stop re-writing this?

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