• Published 21st Dec 2015
  • 239 Views, 6 Comments

The Glimmering Gardener - ArgonMatrix

Life is told not in one great story, but in many smaller ones. Here are a few from the life of the magical plant breeder, Lilligold.

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Bonus: "Mercurial" Alternate Beginning

Author's Note:

A different beginning for my Round 1 story—Lilligold vs. Whitewash. Changed it up because I wasn't feeling this opening as much.

“Ugh, typical,” Whitewash said. He tossed the comic over his shoulder, relegating it to his Do NOT Read Again pile—one which loomed more than twice as large as his Good Comics collection.

He hadn’t even needed to finish that one before discarding it. The plot was predictable to the last letter. The characters were cookie-cutter, one-dimensional trash. Cliches were so rampant that Whitewash was convinced the writer had been going down a checklist. And he could’ve called the deus ex machina coming by the fifth page. It had been one of the worst comics in recent memory, and that said a lot given the sheer volume he read.

Whitewash shook his head and stood. He was on his way to grab his favourite palate-cleanser comic—Power Ponies #73: Nightmare Radiance Strikes!—when a knock came at his door. He made a half-hearted attempt to smooth out his mussy mane as he trotted over and opened the door.

The mailpony greeted him with his standard too-big smile. “Afternoon, Mister Whitewash! Surprise, surprise: got some mail for ya!”

Lifting an eyebrow, Whitewash said, “I didn’t order any comics recently. Still gotta play catch up.”

The mailpony chuckled. “Ain’t a comic today! Got a good old-fashioned letter here with your name on it.” He plucked an envelope from his satchel and passed it forward.

Whitewash grabbed it in his magic and eyed it oddly. He rarely received letters, and none of the ones he had gotten had looked at all like this. The stamp was a mystical, holographic square boasting some strange design, and the return address was in someplace called Elmshire—which he was positive was nowhere in Equestria. “Uh, thanks,” he said, not looking up.

“It’s my honour and duty, pal!” Tipping his hat, the mailpony took off into the sky.

Whitewash retreated inside and instantly tore the envelope open. Upon lifting the letter out, the first thing that struck him was the stationery. It was written on formal-looking cardstock, and the edges were gilded with gold leaf flakes. He carefully unfolded the letter and read it through.

Dear Mr. Whitewash,

My sincerest apologies if this letter catches you off-guard or if I seem too forward, but I simply had to pen you one. Since you’ve likely never heard of me, allow me to explain myself.

My name is Lilligold. I hail from the city of Elmshire, a metropolis south of the San Palomino Desert, which itself is south of you in Canterlot. I work here as a botanist who specializes in combining all manners of plantlife with different types of magic, producing beautiful, enchanted creations. Just recently, your parents enlisted my services for their 25th wedding anniversary. I learned of you through our communications—and in particular I learned of your renowned expertise in the field of chemistry. Among the best in Equestria, they claimed!

The reason for which I write you today is to request your help with one of my current projects. For several months now, I’ve been working to create a breed of luminescent cactus that shifts between many colours of light and uses its spines to cast intricate designs with said light. While I’ve managed to get all the magic in place, I seem to have hit a snag with the chemical side of things. Specifically it seems that the neon is having a strange interaction with the corneus enchantment—baffling to me given that neon should be an inert gas. I’ve done all I can think to do, and you are my last hope. I don’t normally like to collaborate on projects, but I’ve become desperate.

I would like to have you come down to visit my shop in Elmshire—all expenses paid, of course—so that you might help resolve this dilemma. I know this is a very tall, presumptuous order, but I am at my wit’s end. Rest assured that you will be compensated handsomely for your work. Moreover, I’ll happily waive the fee for your parents’s quicksilver irises should you agree to come—regardless of whether you solve my problem or not, I would appreciate the effort alone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this far, Mr. Whitewash. This is very important to me. I eagerly await your reply.

Lilligold, Proprietor of Glimmering Gardens

The pit of Whitewash’s stomach fell out. He buried his face in the letter and groaned harshly, hoping the sound would somehow erase the letter from existence.

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