• Published 4th Mar 2018
  • 2,500 Views, 43 Comments

The Root of the Problem - BlazzingInferno

Rarity is turning into a plant, which proves to be the least of her troubles.

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Topiary Tea

“Did you get it? Is it finally here?”

Spike leaned against the castle’s barely open door, peering at Rarity through the gap and drinking in her glorious yet hungry smile. He grinned, winked, and brought a small brown paper package into view.

Rarity dashed forward with a squeal, pulling him and the package into a embrace that quickly turned into a minor earthquake when her hind legs began tapping madly. “At last, after all these long months of waiting! It’s here! It’s finally here!”

Spike saw those months differently, what with how nearly every day had begun with this same doorstep exchange, usually followed by a conciliatory chat or brunch after he related the bad news. But this was even better; he hadn’t seen Rarity this happy in ages, not since he first told her about his exchanging letters with Shining Armor, and how he and Princess Cadance were about to visit southern Minotauria. “Relax, Rarity. It’s only—”

She fixed him with a smile of utter confidence and, unless he was mistaken, great affection. “Clearly, my dear dragon, you weren’t listening when I described just how rare… but enough talk. You know what time it is, don’t you?”

“Tea time?”

“Tea time!”


Applejack’s scream of “Wait, stop!” echoed through Carousel Boutique, rattling the elaborate tea service on the table and making its proprietor choke.

Spike ran into the dining room, broom and dustpan still in hand, while Rarity coughed and sputtered. A steaming teacup floated in her magic grasp, and precious droplets of what she’d described to him as “the most extravagant and elusive tea in the known world” littered the china saucer and silk tablecloth.

“Rarity, are you okay?” He patted her back in an effort to help her breathe and glanced at Applejack, who’d taken fewer than three steps into the boutique since shouting. “What’s the big deal, Applejack? What’s wrong?”

“Plenty! Rarity didn’t drink that stuff, did she?”

Rarity waved Spike away and directed a menacing hoof at her newest guest. “That’s what one generally does with tea, Applejack! I happen to be sampling one of the rarest drinkable delicacies known to ponykind!”

Applejack rushed forward and pushed the teacup down to the table. “That ain’t tea!”

Spike sighed and shook his head. “I know it smells different, AJ, but it really is just tea! I called in a favor with Princess Cadence to get some delivered here, and right after Twilight and I dropped off that special fertilizer sample that accidentally got delivered to the castle—”

Rarity gagged anew. She coughed and dragged a napkin across her tongue like sandpaper against rough wood, her gaze jumping from one horrified friend to the next. “Please tell me I didn’t just drink—”

Applejack cradled her hat under a foreleg, her ears drooping and her countenance following suit. “All I know for certain is I’ve got an empty package addressed to ‘Rarity, care of Spike the Dragon.’ I should’ve figured there was something funny going on when the south field started smelling like that frou-frou, bubbly-something place you dragged us all to in Manehattan.”

Spike rushed to the kitchen counter and retrieved the freshly opened box still brimming with powdered tea leaves, or so he assumed. “There’s no way this isn’t your tea, Rarity! Remember how we looked over all the foreign stamps on the box, and—”

Twilight teleported into the kitchen with a small bang, finally knocking over Rarity’s teacup and spilling its pea-green contents across the white tablecloth. “Rarity! There’s a big problem with the mail, I think you got… Applejack, Spike, what’re you doing here?”

Applejack sighed. “Same reason you are, sugar cube. That goes for me at least; I reckon Spike’s always within ten feet of you or Rarity.”

Spike simply blushed, while Rarity turned away with an indignant huff. “I’ll have you know I insisted Spike stay the afternoon and try this extremely rare tea with me, which is the least I can do in exchange for his tireless efforts to acquire it from southern Minotauria on my behalf, thanks to his connections with the Crystal Empire.”

Twilight fixed Spike with a sisterly gaze that spoke volumes: How many rare comic books do you owe Shining Armor?

Spike shrugged in reply. All of them.

“Besides,” Rarity continued, “I don’t recall the rest of you taking even the slightest interest whenever I suggest partaking in something truly sophisticated for a change. Half the time Spike is the only one who bothers to come.”

Applejack cocked an eyebrow and nodded to Spike’s abandoned broom and dustpan. “Uh huh.”

Spike glared at her. “I spilled some sugar, okay?”

Applejack grinned. “Uh huh. Anyway, you looking for this, Twi?” She held up a small brown package covered in stamps.

Spike did a double take, certain that Applejack had somehow swiped the tea’s package from the countertop. “Wow, that looks exactly like the… uh oh.”

A third identical package appeared next to Twilight in a purple flash. She tilted it sideways and pointed to the label. “We all got mail order packages today, right?”

Rarity nodded. “Tea… expensive… rare.”

Applejack did the same. “Fertilizer. The strongest, most concentrated stuff in the world to give some pesky, impossible-to-grow-anything-in soil a kick.”

“As for me,” Twilight added, “a sample of a rare plant species that—”

“What did I just drink?” Rarity interrupted.

“Tea!” Spike shouted. He grabbed the package from the counter and jammed a claw against the label. “It says so right here! T-e-a-hyphen—what? There’s a dozen more letters here all in really small print!”

Twilight took the package in her magic. “It’s not written in Equestrian, Spike. In its native language it’s a scientific name for—”

The tea service jumped as Rarity pounded her hooves on the table. “What did I just drink?

“And what did I just dust the south field with?” Applejack shouted.

Twilight took their corresponding packages and compared the labels. “AJ, your fertilizer is back at the castle; the smell tipped me off as soon as I opened it. I think you just dusted your crops with expensive tea leaves.”

Rarity planted her face on the table, next to her upended cup and still-steaming tea pot. “And as for me?”

Twilight grimaced. “It’s… complicated, but it’s absolutely fixable. Don’t worry about that!”

Spike placed a comforting hand on Rarity’s foreleg, close to tears himself. “This is all my fault, Rarity. If I'd read the label more carefully, I would've seen Twilight’s name on it. I'm so sorry!”

Her other foreleg fell on his hand. “It's mine, too. I should've suspected something when the brewing instructions mentioned beakers and proper lab safety. I guess we were both just too excited.”

Twilight took a deep breath. “Okay, let me explain: I’ve been doing some research on the magical properties of exotic flora, and there’s an extremely magical plant found only in certain tropical jungles that has a… unique defense mechanism. Its leaves contain a substance that turns animals that try to eat it into other plants, so they’ll get eaten by the next animal that comes along.”

Rarity looked up, her eyes wet and her mouth agape. “You mean I’m… I’m turning into a plant? A pony-shaped topiary?”

“There’s a cure, though! I’ll have you back to normal just as soon as I can get all the ingredients. Some of them are pretty rare, but Zecora probably has them.”

Spike stared at Twilight with wide-eyed surprise. “You mean you didn’t order the antidote at the same time? Why not?”

“It was… um… backordered,” Twilight mumbled.