Anthomania

by Versimer

First published

Daisy and her friends embrace their destinies by transforming themselves into flowers. Nopony really cares, though. It's not like flowers can take over the world or anything, right? Right?

Anthomania
An`tho`ma´ni`a
n. 1. An extravagant fondness for flowers

Daisy and her friends embrace their destinies by transforming themselves into flowers. There is an unexpected consequence, however, as they end up controlling all of the flowers in Equestria.

Nopony really cares, though. It's not like flowers can take over the world or anything, right? Right?

Flower Mind

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Flowers.

All around me, there were flowers. Colorful flowers of every variety, swaying hypnotically in the wind, as if inviting me to become lost in their tranquil, loving bliss.

A warm breeze wafted past us, giving a deceptively relaxing flavor to the events that were unfolding. In the midst of the sunny, flowery field, I spotted several black and white shapes shuffling around.

“They make final preparations,” rumbled a male voice near me. The zebra's heavy accent was still rather disorienting, and it took me a few extra moments to discern what he was saying. “In minutes, spell is ready.”

“Good,” blurted Daisy, obviously relieved. She cast a sideways glance at Lily Valley, who was pointedly looking away and poking at flowers with a foreleg. “I've waited long enough for this, don't you think?”

Lily Valley blinked and looked up anxiously at her friend. “I, um... Yes, of course. I'm very happy for you, Daisy.”

Daisy, apparently satisfied with the reply, looked back at the site of the spell. “I will be going first, Zubuju,” she stated confidently.

The zebra looked at each of us in turn, squinting, and finally settled his gaze on Daisy. “You are very brave, pony,” he said seriously. “I say one last time: you must be sure that this is right choice. No going back.”

“Yes, yes,” Daisy droned, “I know what I'm doing.” She turned to look at us, her dark green eyes narrowed in a calculating expression. “And which of you will be the first to follow? That is...” – Daisy paused, taking her time to give Lily Valley and then me a deathly stare – “unless you've changed your minds...”

“I think Rose should go,” answered Lily Valley.

I sighed and frowned at her, squinting my eyes from the sunlight reflecting off her golden mane. “Lily,” I said evenly, “if anypony's being dragged into this, it's me. I haven't changed my mind, but you decided to follow Daisy before I did. It's only fair that you should go second.”

Lily Valley only looked back at me with pitiful pleading eyes. I suddenly felt guilty for probably having been too hard on her. She glanced back at Daisy, who maintained a stare that could melt steel. “Okay,” squeaked Lily Valley.

“I can't help but feel you are having doubts about this, Lily,” said Daisy, her voice low and immeasurably cold. “You've always followed me. Things have always worked out. Surely now, after all we've done, you won't reject your life's true purpose for a simple fear of the unknown...”

Lily Valley cringed under the verbal onslaught. “N-no...” She gulped and looked at anything but Daisy. “I won't lie, now that we're really here, really doing this, I'm scared. But I... I believe in you, Daisy.”

At that, Daisy's demeanor changed completely. She leaned over and wrapped a gentle hoof around her friend. “We'll be fine,” she said comfortingly. “Just trust me.”

The zebras in the middle of the field had stopped bustling about and appeared to be locked in formation. Many colorful objects – magical instruments and alchemical reagents, I presumed – were strewn about in a vaguely circular pattern. The wind had disappeared, and the field was oddly silent.

Zubuju, who had been pretending not to witness our emotional confrontation, cleared his throat loudly. “It is time,” was all he needed to say.

Daisy immediately trotted forward, approaching the prepared spell circle without even a single glance back at us.

“Daisy?” I blurted.

Daisy stopped in her tracks, still refusing to look back. “What is it?” she said quickly.

“You, uh... You aren't going to say goodbye?”

That got her turning. She squinted at me like I was stupid. “I'm not leaving.”

I opened my mouth, but I couldn't find a suitable reply. Daisy continued onwards. As she approached the center of the zebras' spell circle, I turned to face their leader. “So how does this work, exactly? She just... goes to sleep in that circle?”

“Yes,” replied Zubuju. “Spell put pony to sleep. Pony feel nothing. Pony mind become flower mind.”

“Right...” I murmured. “Sounds simple enough. There's... there's no chance for an error, right? She won't lose her memories, or become stuck in a magical plane, or something?”

The old zebra frowned at me. I would have thought that his gigantic, spiked, monochrome hairdo and various colorful baubles would take away from any attempt at sincerity. I had been proved wrong multiple times already. “You doubt skill of famed Zok'sara shamans? No. Nothing go wrong.”

Daisy had reached the center of the zebras' peculiar arrangement. She hurriedly laid down in what looked like a circle of stones. The ground inside was solid dirt, cleared of plant life and other objects but for one very tiny white shape. I realized that it must be a daisy. Of course.

One of the zebra shamans gave Daisy a colorful potion, which she eagerly gulped down. Merely a second after that, her head swayed from side to side, and she collapsed roughly into the earth. The zebra moved away to join his peers, who started chanting rhythmically in an ancient language.

I noticed an odd sound coming from my right. On the ground next to me was a shivering pink pony. Her body was nestled amongst a bed of shining flowers, with her face buried in her forelegs. She shuddered in time with her quiet sobs.

“Lily!” I gasped, darting down to comfort her. “Lily, what's wrong?”

Lily Valley sniffled and looked up at me with tearful eyes. “I d-don't know. Th-this is such a big c-change. I... I r-really hope that Daisy will be okay.”

I sighed and leaned against her in a tender embrace. As I comforted my friend in that moment, I heard an odd ringing sound, and I could have sworn that I saw the sky flicker in an unnatural light. “You heard the zebra. And you heard Daisy... Daisy knows what she's doing,” I said gently. “It's not the end of the world. She will... we will be fine. Really.”

“I hope you're right,” squeaked Lily Valley. She managed to raise her head enough to see Daisy, who still laid in the circle, posed as a dead pony might be. “I hope you're right...”

Zubuju chose that moment to interrupt us. “It is done,” he stated bluntly.

My head jerked up from where it was resting against Lily Valley. “What? Already? I... I mean, that must have been only ten seconds, and... and she...”

“Please, come. These results I wish to see,” he said, moving briskly towards the circle of zebras and magical items.

“Okay, okay. Lily, come on...” I said, nudging my friend into a standing position. She leaned on me and kept sniffling while we walked towards the site of the spell.

Zubuju and a few other zebras stood on the edges of the center circle; the others were bustling about, presumably resetting their spellwork. It wasn't until I stepped hoof onto the circle that I realized how odd it was that Daisy – or rather, Daisy's body – was still there. I realized that the pony in front of me must be dead. A chill raced through my body, and for a moment I thought that panic would overwhelm me.

Zubuju must have sensed this, for he kindly poked me in the side. I was momentarily startled to see him wearing an eager, even excited, expression. With a nod, he motioned towards the sole other object in the ring. Rising tall and proud out of the fertile ground, its petals gleaming brilliantly in the sunlight, was a single daisy.

For several seconds, I was too stunned to move. My mouth hung open and my mind whirred as I struggled to comprehend the sheer magnitude of what had just happened. Fortunately, Zubuju again came to my rescue.

“You speak to flower,” he whispered softly, seemingly reluctant to disturb such a holy moment.

I gulped and looked over at Lily, who had managed standing on her own. She was frozen in place with a similar awestruck expression. “Lily,” I whispered hoarsely. I caught her gaze, and then looked pointedly at the flower. We both took hesitant, careful steps forward.

Lily Valley and I stood over that daisy for what seemed like an eternity. We looked at each other. We looked at the flower. We looked at the zebras, and Zubuju, who seemed to be growing even more impatient.

A group of ponies and zebras stood in the middle of a flowery field, and everything was still.

I finally leaned down, positioning my face nearer to the flower. I was careful to move, careful to breathe, careful not to upset the tiny plant that might just be a lot more.

As gentle as the softest wind, I whispered a question. “Daisy?”
Nothing happened. I mentally counted the most dreadful seconds of my life. One second passed. And then two. Three. I went up to ten. I gulped and, still staring down the flower like it was the only visible thing in the universe, felt my eyes starting to sting.

I was about to give up hope. I was about to burst into tears and kill every zebra here, and myself for allowing my friend to do this. I prepared for the worst. And then the flower answered me.

Rose?

The response hit me like a ton of bricks. An enlightening, all-fulfilling, absolutely merciful ton of bricks. I gasped loudly and flinched back, more surprised than frightened. The thought that was not my own still echoed in my mind; the feeling of it was novel and unexplainable. I was in shock, and I struggled to comprehend what had just happened. A large part of me believed that I had only been hallucinating, that I had only wanted to deny the death of my friend.

I realized that Lily Valley must have also heard the response, for she immediately lunged past me. She leaned, quickly but carefully, close to the lone flower. “Daisy?” she squeaked. “Daisy, it's me, Lily Valley! Please be alive, please!”

I had fallen back helplessly into a sitting position. Lily Valley was squatting in front of the flower, her nose almost touching its petals. Her cheeks were still wet from when she had cried only minutes ago. As, again, many seconds passed with no response, her eyes widened and began to fill with shiny tears. In that time, I again feared that Daisy was really dead, that I had just been hearing things in my insane desperation.

But it happened again. Miraculously, impossibly, joyfully for the both of us ponies, the daisy responded, if only with a single word.

Lily?

Lily Valley burst into tears. She flopped down onto the dirt and edged closer to the daisy. “Daisy,” she whimpered between sobbing breaths, “Daisy, oh Daisy, you did it. You really did it! You're... you're so beautiful...”

I only sat there, gaping at the magical display unfolding in front of my eyes. My observation of that tender moment was interrupted by a hoof-tap on my shoulder. I swiveled my head around to see Zubuju, looking like he could explode with anxiety.

“You... You did it?” he stammered. “You have talk to flower?”

Something changed inside me, then. I suppose I had realized the true beauty of the situation. Everything my friend had worked for, everything she exemplified, it was perfected in that one moment. Daisy had followed her heart and done this crazy thing, and she was alive to enjoy it. I didn't notice that I had been crying until I tried to answer Zubuju's excited query.

“Y-Yes,” I whimpered with a sad little smile. “We... we have talk to flower.”

The normally reserved zebra's expression brightened significantly. “Heh! Heh heh, this good!” he rumbled. He pounded his chest, a gesture that disturbed the still silence, but still one that he undoubtedly deserved. “Zok'sara never fail!”

“Haha... Yeah, I could tell,” I said breathlessly. Our conversation was interrupted in way that nobody expected.

Beautiful?

That response came at least twenty seconds after Lily Valley uttered the same word. Lily Valley had since been murmuring incoherently with her face buried in her forelegs. She slowly moved her gaze upwards until it rested on the daisy. “Why, yes,” said Lily Valley, grinning brightly. “Very beautiful...”

Lily Valley then reached out with a hoof, very tentatively, as delicately as if she were performing surgery. The tip of her hoof made contact with the tiny petals, causing the white flower to sway gently on its stem.

I felt the need to state the obvious. The obvious, and the unnecessary, considering how deliberately she was handling the task. “Lily... be careful.”

Lily Valley slowly moved her hoof away, smiling gently, never averting her gaze from the daisy. “Oh, there's no need to worry,” she said blissfully. She made a silly face and started talking to the daisy like a mother might talk to their newborn foal. “You're a good, strong flower, aren't you, Daisy? Yes... you...” Lily Valley trailed off, suddenly breathless.

I was mystified for a moment, but then I looked closer, and what I saw overjoyed me as much as it frightened me. I noted that Lily Valley's hoof was a good distance away from the daisy. There was, and had not been, any breeze or other disturbance. It could not be denied: the daisy had moved on its own.

Lily Valley only gaped in awe as the flower swiveled on its stem, facing her directly. The petals moved back and forth slightly in a rhythmic wavy pattern, as if the flower were performing a dance. Lily Valley began to giggle hysterically, occasionally injecting the word 'Daisy' into her vocalizations.

Strong.

Again, we both heard it. I couldn't help but giggle at the response: Daisy was not dancing, apparently, but she was showing off her strength. That was our Daisy, all right.

I found myself less emotionally unstable, so I stood up and considered the situation in a clearer light. No more than five minutes could have passed since we entered the ring. Zubuju was the only zebra around, now, and he seemed as surprised as anypony else to see the flower moving.

“This... this flower mind...” muttered Zubuju. “It moves flower. This amazing. Did not expect this.”

“Heh. Oh, how amazing it is,” I replied. “Daisy didn't expect that, either. I... I suppose she must be as happy as we are.”

Lily Valley was playing with the daisy, moving her hoof around so that the flower turned and brushed against it. The sound of her jubilant laughter echoed throughout the field.

I wanted to feel happy with her, but something was nagging at me. Something I felt stupid for not having considered before. “Zubuju,” I said cautiously, “You can't hear Daisy, right? It's just us?”

“Yes,” responded the shaman. “You have emotion tie. Allows mind tie. Flower mind is free, not stuck with thought in one mind.”

“Uh, okay. Well, um, the odd thing is...” I trailed off, hesitant to voice my concern; it sounded silly, and I was afraid it would ruin the so-far happy occasion. I cleared my throat and persevered. “Daisy isn't talking like normal. She only says one word, and... and it takes her a really long time to respond...”

I gulped, feeling my chest tighten with anxiety. Concern for my flowery friend overwhelmed me, and I started talking more quickly. “I-I mean, that's not right, right? She should be able to talk to us like she could before. It's like she's become... less than herself.”

Zubuju suddenly looked very uncomfortable. “Ah, yes. That was... possible problem.” He cleared his throat and bravely locked eyes with me. “Tiny flower body, even magic one, not allow much thinking. Your friend knew this. They not care.”

That only served to panic me even further. “W-what?” I said. “So what are you saying, exactly? Daisy is... is only a tiny remnant of her former self?”

“That... is possible.” Zubuju sighed and gazed wistfully at the daisy. “I would guess that that not matter. Your friend not care about thinking. Care only about flower.”

Daisy had not ever mentioned that possibility. I felt betrayed, crushed, even angry. “This... this changes everything. We – “

I stopped talking, my thought stream interrupted by an external force.

Free.

My gaze snapped over to the daisy. Lily Valley cringed back in surprise, and the rest of us watched in awe, as the flower began to glow in a magical light. The ethereal field strongly resembled that which might appear around a unicorn's horn; its color was dark green, matching that of Daisy's eyes.

I stood, frozen in awe. And I had thought that the flower's moving of its petals was amazing. Zubuju stumbled back and uttered, in his native tongue, several of what I assumed were curses. “What... w-what's going on?” asked Lily Valley.

We both stared at Zubuju, assuming he would have an explanation. “I... I not know,” he stammered. “This not possible.”

I interjected with something I felt was important. “Well, that's like unicorn magic, right? Daisy must be casting some kind of spell.”

Lily Valley stood up and paced around, regarding the shimmering daisy. “That's really weird. Daisy? Daisy... what are you doing?” she queried the flower.

As we had grown to expect, several seconds passed without further development on the flower's part. We had not, however, expected the response to be more magic.

The magical field brightened, casting an ominous green glow over every object in the vicinity. I quickly raised my foreleg to shield my eyes from the painfully radiant display. As soon as it had come, it disappeared, leaving only a faint green tint around the lone daisy.

“What just happened?” I asked nobody in particular.

I was startled by a gasp from Lily Valley, who was staring at something near the center circle we were in. “Look!”

Lily Valley was pointing at a flower. It was a daisy. It was outside the ring, at least a meter from the center where Daisy resided. Before our very eyes, it sparkled and shimmered with a greenish glow.

Magic.

“Oh my gosh, Daisy!” exclaimed Lily Valley excitedly. “That's so cool!”

I looked at the magical daisy. I looked at the other magical daisy. My day just kept getting more and more confusing. “Hold on a minute...” I ruminated. “Does... does this mean that our Daisy is two flowers now? How does that even work?”

Nobody had time to respond, as the bright green glow returned in full force. It seemed to emanate from both flowers now. A powerful ringing sound filled my ears, and I felt my coat-hairs bristle from energy in the air.

The three of us in the ring blinked our burning eyes. As our vision returned, we collectively gasped in surprise. More flowers had been... assimilated, was the only word I could think of. And not only daisies. All around us, there were tiny, shining splotches of green magic. There were too many to count.

“Woah,” was all I could say.

Lily Valley, on the other hoof, remained carefree and jubilant. She bounced around the ring, chirping happily. “Daisy, Daisy! This is amazing! You're, like, all the flowers now!”

The content of the flowers' response did not intrigue me so much as its speed of delivery.

All the flowers.

Oddly, the magical glows around the flowers faded. Now even the original daisy in the ring looked normal. Lily Valley was dismayed, looking like an immature filly who has lost their new toy. I addressed Zubuju with my concern before my emotions-driven friend had a chance to complain.

“Zubuju, what's going on here? Daisy told us 'all the flowers.' Is she using magic to... to take over other flowers? We, uh, hadn't really planned for that.”

“I told you,” said Zubuju firmly, He couldn't quite stop his voice from shaking. “I not know why this happen. Flower should not move. Flower should not do magic. Your friend should be only one flower.”

Lily Valley interrupted with her own opinion. “Well, I think it's great that she can move! And do magic! Yeah, we didn't expect that, but this is just a bonus, right?”

I looked back at Lily Valley, trying to stay calm in the face of all the uncertainty. “I... I suppose you're right, Lily. Surely this can't – ah!

I was interrupted by nothing other than the magical green light. The same sensations of ringing and charged energy returned, more intense than before. And, as before, they faded completely within a few seconds.

After the second time, I knew what to expect. I slowly opened my eyes, and saw green.

Gasping in shock, I started turning around and around in silly little circles. There was the magical greenish glow again, and it was everywhere. I couldn't spot a single flower that wasn't twinkling in an unnatural light. Sweet merciful Celestia,” I muttered.

Zubuju had fallen back on his haunches. Lily Valley was still turning around in circles, like she was expecting to find a part of the field left untouched by the magic.

The magic faded again; the residual glow lasted for only a few seconds. Around us, many of the zebra shamans had been startled out of their patient meditations. One of them ran up to Zubuju and started talking rapidly in his native language. Zubuju gave a one-word reply to the encroaching zebra, who quickly returned to his position.

“Well,” I blurted, “apparently our Daisy is now... not just a daisy, but this whole darned field of flowers!”

Lily Valley looked up at me, her shock quickly morphing into excitement. “Oh, this just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?” she said. She stood up and, grinning widely, addressed the entire field. “Hey, Daisy, you still there? How does it feel to be a field of flowers? Hehe.”

Oh, Lily, it's better than you could possibly imagine.

I gasped in shock, my mind reeling at the reply's profound implications. I started thinking out loud. “Of course! Daisy, flower mind... your thinking capacity must be related to how many flowers you control! You could barely speak earlier, because you only had one flower! But... I still don't have the slightest idea of how... how a single mind can reside in multiple bodies...”

Rose, my friend, you worry too much. Free yourself of anxiety, for all I know now is love.

“A-all you know is love? What's that supposed to mean?”

I'm sorry, but you cannot understand until you experience it for yourself. I dearly hope that you both still wish to join me. I'd be really upset to know that you're missing out on this.

I tried to reason further, but only managed a pathetic stammering. “Well... well I, um...”

Lily Valley spared me with a characteristically happy reply. “Yes, Daisy! This... this is all so much better than I imagined...” She giggled at the flowers. “Hehe, I can't wait to join you!”

She turned to Zubuju. “So is it ready again? The spell?” she asked excitedly, swiveling her head around to look at the prepared spell circle.

“Ah, yes,” replied Zubuju. “Spell still go as planned. It be ready for many minute now. Ponies take their time with flower.”

“Oh, shoot,” said Lily Valley. “I'm sorry, Daisy, I shouldn't have delayed for so long! Zubuju, I will be going now.”

I looked at Lily Valley, feeling that I should say something. “Uh... good luck, I guess? Like Daisy said, this isn't really goodbye, so...”

“Come on, Rose, you heard the flowers! We don't need to worry about it. Or anything else. Hehe.” Lily Valley moved to the center of the ring and laid down, pointedly looking away from Daisy's corpse. She looked up at Zubuju expectantly, who barked an order. Soon a zebra had run up, delivering the same type of potion to Lily Valley. He did something else that I couldn't see, and suddenly there was a lily planted in the ground next to Lily.

Zubuju and I attentively watched the performance from outside the ring. Things proceeded much the same as before: my friend drank the potion and passed out, the zebras started chanting, there was an unsettling sound and a flicker of unnatural light. In the span of ten seconds, it had been done again.

I looked over at Zubuju, who then nodded towards the center of the ring. The inert bodies of Daisy and Lily Valley lay there, almost touching. Near them were the two tiny flowers: one daisy and one lily. I carefully walked up to the lily, preparing to delicately whisper a question as I had done before.

Oh my gosh! This is so amazing! Really, you couldn't understand unless you're here!

My head jerked back, and I looked around quizzically at the endless ocean of flowers surrounding me. Suspicious curiosity overcame my relief to hear my friend again. “Huh,” I said. “This is pretty weird. Are... are you both sharing all of the flowers now?”

Um, you could say that. It's hard to explain, and please don't freak out, but Daisy and Lily sort of became the same person.

“The same... the same person? What's that supposed to mean?”

Well, um, basically, we're sharing one mind. Daisy's and Lily Valley's personalities were merged together.

I squinted and fidgeted in place, thinking hard. Briefly I considered telling Zubuju about the new development, but I suspected that he was just as clueless as I was. “I'm not sure if I understand. Are you saying that you're not... individuals any more?”

That's right. I am just one person. It's not a bad thing, truly. Please don't let it scare you away.

“What... you... did you plan for this, Daisy? This isn't right!” I stammered nervously. “Yes, we wanted our bodies to be flowers, but I thought we also wanted to keep our own minds!”

Roseluck, calm down. It's fine. Daisy did know about this, and Lily would be okay with it. Now, the spell is almost ready again. Just lie down and join me, and you won't have to worry about anything ever again.

A deep sense of unease had settled over me. My eyes darted around, and I briefly felt as if the flowers in the field had me trapped in the tiny circle. I glanced over at the corpses of Daisy and Lily Valley.

I was suddenly highly aware of my own living, breathing, equine body. That body must have realized what was about to happen, for my survival instincts finally caught up with me.

I looked away from the flowers, shut my eyes, gulped, and took a deep breath.

“No,” I finally said.

What?

My chest tightened, and I had to fight back tears. I knew that I was betraying my friends. What remained of my friends. “No,” I repeated, struggling to control my voice. “I... I won't d-do this.”

Rose, what's wrong?

“Y-you just told me what's wrong!” I choked on a breath and sobbed once before continuing. “You're n-not the same p-ponies any more, you're merged into this... this weird flower overmind!”

Zubuju quickly walked up to me, interrupting the conversation which must have appeared to him as completely one-sided. “Is there problem? Flower friend okay?”

I barely heard him. I clenched my eyes shut and struggled to control my ragged breathing.

Rose, please. Just tell him you're ready and lie down. That's all. It's so easy.

“Stop it,” I squeaked. “S-stop trying to p-persuade me like that. I don't... don't want to argue with you...”

We decided to do this together, Roseluck. As friends.

There was a pause. I continued trying to force back my tears.

I love you, Rose. I've always loved you. You are the greatest friend in the world. I won't ever be complete without you here.

I couldn't hold back any longer. I broke down, collapsing onto the ground and unleashing pitiful wails. “I'm s-sorry,” I whimpered. “I'm s-so sorry, D-Daisy, Lily Valley, I... I c-can't do this. I j-just can't.”

I'm sorry too, Rose. I'm sorry that you can't feel what I'm feeling right now.

Another pause.

But, Rose, we're your friends. Surely, after all this time, you won't turn your back on us when we need you the most. We've talked about this. What else do you have to live for?

“I have my own mind!” I said, my voice cracking. “I-I have my own body that, put in perspective, isn't really all that b-bad!”

Those things aren't as great as you might wish to believe. Trust me. I've told you, you worry too much. Just say you're ready. It's only two words. Just say two words, drink the potion, and this will all be over with. It's what you came here to do.

I didn't want to believe that I had lost my friends. I didn't want to believe that this flower mind was trying to force me to join it when I obviously didn't want to. I simply didn't want to deal with the situation any more.

My body seemed to move of its own accord, standing up and trotting out of the ring.

Rose, what are you doing? Come back.

Zubuju moved to intercept me. “Pony, what you doing? Spell ready again, we almost finish!”

I stopped to look back at the zebra. “I'm n-not doing it,” I said. “I'm leaving. I'm g-going home.”

“Pony! After all this, you quit!? No! Zok'sara never leave job undone!”

He has a point, Rose. You wouldn't want to disappoint the zebras, would you? They've already done so much for us.

“I'm sorry, Zubuju,” I said sadly, now a good distance away from the circle. “You can undo your preparations.”

Behind me, I heard muttered curses followed by angrily barked orders. Head held low, I trotted briskly through the flowers towards a large gap in the surrounding trees.

Roseluck, stop. You can't do this. Have you forgotten that we gave up everything to pay them? If you left, you wouldn't have any life to return to. You wouldn't have your friends.

I shut the flowers' pleas out of my mind and continued walking. Something bothered me, and I stopped immediately when I realized what it was. I looked down at my hoof and, to my horror, saw that I had crushed a flower with my forehoof.

Behind me was a series of indents in the field, each marking where even more of the helpless plants had been trampled. “Oh... Oh gosh...” I whimpered, cringing back from the sight. “I-I'm sorry, flowers! I'm sorry, Daisy and Lily!”

It's fine. I don't feel pain, and I don't mind losing a few flowers out of my thousands.

“Oh.” I gulped, struggling to comprehend the sheer absurdity of the situation. The exit path was now only several meters away. “I, um... I guess this is goodbye, then,” I said quickly, trotting briskly towards my escape. “I-I might visit you sometime, I don't know. I'm sorry. I'm a bad friend.”

Rose, please.

All around, flowers turned their petals to face me. Many of them brushed forcefully against my hooves.

I ignored them. I kept moving onwards, clenching my jaw and sniffling uncontrollably.

Please stop, Rose. Come back. I need you here!

I was almost there. Only a few more meters, and then I would be gone.

Rose, stop! You're betraying us, you know! You agreed to this, we did this because we thought you would join us!

I crossed over the treeline. I was finally free of the endless floor of flowers. A familiar beaten path loomed ahead of me, sheltered by trees and spotted with sunlight.

I slowly swiveled my head around, looking back at the shining, colorful flowers one final time. Each and every one of them was facing me, making for a disturbingly unnatural sight. “I'm sorry,” I whispered.

I love you, Rose! I need you! Please don't leave me! Please! I love you! I love you! I love you!

“I'm sorry.” I turned and galloped away, tears streaming freely down my face. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry...”

Rose!

The voice floated to me over a great distance. A ghostly remnant of my lost friends, it brushed gently against my mind, less than a whisper.