Luna's Flower of Happiness By: Sara Lostaglia
It was an abnormally beautiful day in Equestria, the sun was high in the sky, and in a woodsy nook on the outskirts of Ponyville, Fluttershy and her animal friends were busy gathering flowers for the arrival that afternoon of Princess Luna. Separate from the rest of the group, though, was a small squirrel by the name of Charlie, who was gathering his bouquet from one clump of purple flowers. Muttering he stooped again and again to collect the vivid blooms, when suddenly a slight breeze flew past him. Looking up he saw that the Princess Luna had landed in a clearing nearby. Smiling wickedly he scurried towards her, the bouquet of blossoms clutched in his eager paw…
"DASH! What have I told you about practicin' your routine while foldin' laundry? You just knocked five socks into my pie." Apple Jack glared up at Rainbow Dash, who hovered for a moment before returning to the loft, where a large pile of laundry awaited her.
"I hate socks. They're so small; they just keep sneaking away while I'm not looking!" Apple Jack shook her head in disgust.
"No excuses! Ugh, why did Rarity have to send you here… you're doin' more damage here than you could possibly have been doing in her parlor!" Rainbow Dash's scowl grew darker and she collapsed in the pile of soft, warm laundry.
"I was making too much wind; she couldn't get her curls to set. Why is everyone around here allowed to do their thing except me?" Apple chuckled and returned to her pudding, extracting five apple cinnamon covered socks.
"Because you're thing is just too darn destructive honey, it's not your fault. Why don't you go find Pinkie, ruin her day for a while."Her scowl becoming deeper by the minute Rainbow Dash flew down from the loft and through the door, muttering darkly. Apple Jack exhaled gratefully. "Finally I'll be able to get somethin' done around here!"
Half an hour later Pinkie Pie was still struggling to deal with Dash's sudden bouts of moodiness.
"Dash I really think you just need to get into the partying mood! What color streamers do you think we should have? That should brighten your day!"
"Black." Dash replied sullenly. Where Pinkie Pie was making an extra effort to bounce along with her usual incandescence Dash was taking each step like the only place it was taking her was closer to death.
"Ooh Black! Just imagine what we could- !" Pinkie Pie paused, a look of painful concentration taking over her face. "Wait, that's not a very pretty color! Now what kind of a Rainbow are you? Go rain on somebody else's parade, will ya?" With that Pinkie Pie flounced down the street away from Dash, hoping against hope that the moody Pegasus wouldn't follow. Rarity, looking out the window of her salon, sighed sadly as the forlorn Pegasus flew high into the sky and towards the edge of Ponyville. Of all the days to be grumpy why did she have to choose the Princess's arrival date? Rarity, never one to get her curlers in a twist, decided that there was nothing that she could do and returned to her tasks. Putting up the decorations she had chosen, and thinking up an excuse not to use the ones that Pinkie was sure to turn up.
"Stampede! Hurry up n' get runnin' folks, it's a bunny stampede!"Everypony hurried towards the opposite end of town, out of the way of the bunnies who, despite their friendly nature could be quite vicious when angered. At the end of the main road was a small corral built just for this purpose. As soon as everyone was inside the corral Apple Jack shut the gate, halting the bunnies' pursuit. Before anyone could catch their breath a small voice called out from above them.
"Thank you everypony for following the procedure and meeting me here." The gathering looked up to see Fluttershy hovering above them. As they watched she swooped over to the bunnies' side of the gate. "And thank you little bunnies, for helping me gather them. You can go home now." The bunnies scampered off into the woods as the poor, befuddled citizens of Ponyville struggled to wrap their minds around what was going on.
"Do you mean to tell us that you ARRANGED the bunny stampede?" cried Apple Jack. Within seconds of this proclamation everypony in Ponyville was outraged. How could she do something like that? Frighten all of them to their wits end!
"Please…. Please, settle down everypony…" Despite the softness of her voice the ponies heard her and listened attentively. "I had to have the bunnies gather you here, to tell you that our beautiful and most gracious princess Luna has been kidnapped." ***
Not an hour later the ordinary citizens had gone home, still fretting about their princess, but knowing that it was best to leave it to the more experienced ponies in town. This small group of ponies, the same group that had saved Equestria, had come to be known as the Savvy Saviors, and were turned to whenever Ponyville was in need. Even now Twilight, Fluttershy, Rarity, Apple Jack and Pinkie Pie were gathered in the main square. Dash was inexplicably absent.
"What are we going to do?" Twilight queried anxiously. "Our princess is missing and we have absolutely no idea where to find her!" She paced across the square chewing on her bottom lip.
"Don't worry; I'm sure someone will turn up somethin'!"Said Apple Jack quite optimistically. At that very minute a small rabbit hopped into the square and hurried to Fluttershy's side, where he whispered something in her ear.
"Thank you little rabbit." She replied to his whispering. The rabbit hopped away and Fluttershy turned to face the group.
"What news?" asked Twilight immediately. Before Fluttershy could answer her Apple Jack cut in with her own question.
"Wait just a sec, rabbits can talk?" Her tone of bewilderment was enough to make anypony laugh, but the situation was too serious for such frivolities.
"Yes, some of them can. And he said that since the nonappearance of Princess Luna every squirrel has disappeared from the woods surrounding Ponyville, not one can be found. A large group of them were seen heading east from Ponyville about half an hour ago, all of them with small bunches of tiny purple flowers. Some of my bunny friends have collected a bunch of the same flowers, and it changes them somehow…" Fluttershy drifted off into thoughtful silence while the other ponies stared at her expectantly.
"How did it change them?" asked Pinkie Pie, somewhat impatiently.
"I'm not sure, he just said that it made them happy, and I don't understand what he means!" Fluttershy squeezed her eyes shut, frustrated by her own ignorance. The ponies stood there, silently thinking.
"Maybe it makes them all dance uncontrollably," Suggested Pinkie Pie. "And throw enormous parties? That's what I do when I'm happy!"
"No…"Twilight spoke quietly. "I don't think it makes you do whatever makes you happy. I was reading a book on the Flora around Ponyville and came across a rather curious flower called the Fleur de Bonheur, or Flower of happiness. I can't remember its exact effects, I'll have to go home and look it up. I think that we ought to find out what this flower is, then track the party of squirrels seen going east. If my recollections are right then the squirrels, with the help of the Fleur de Bonheur, could have kidnapped Luna."
Back in Twilight's library about an hour later the ponies gathered around her to hear what the books had to say about the Fleur de Bonheur. Somewhat annoyed at having been awakened from his afternoon nap, Spike threw several books having to do with plants on the table and collapsed back on his bed. They let Twilight be in control of the pages and soon found themselves looking at page headed, "Magical properties of the Fleur de Bonheur".
"Okay… it's described as a small, vivid purple flower with many tiny blooms. When its scent is inhaled a pony smells whatever he or she is most partial to, and if the flower is in full bloom then for about six hours afterward the pony will not be saddened, angered or frightened by anything. In short, they will be completely docile, and suggestible. I was right! With the help of this flower, the squirrels could easily have led Luna anywhere!"
"What? She could be anywhere by now! All we know is that the squirrels were seen going east!" Rarity fretted.
"Yes, they were seen going east, so now, we go east. Fluttershy, I want you to fly up into the clouds and scout the area from the sky. Any notice of squirrels, you join us and lead us to them. We will be trailing the squirrels. Let's go find us a princess!" As it turns out, it wasn't nearly that simple.
"Well now what're we supposed to do?"Asked Apple Jack. The four ponies had been walking through the forest tracking the squirrel tracks for less than an hour when the tracks split up and went down four different paths.
"Well Apple Jack, it seems as if our only option is to split up, and hopefully at least one of us can get to the final destination point. We will meet up back here in an hour, and whoever thinks that they've found the final destination point, or even has seen it, can lead the others. Agreed?"
"I don't know Twilight, we're almost to the deepest darkest part of the forest, and it might not be very safe." Objected Rarity.
"I know Rarity, but we owe it to Luna to take that chance."There were a few mumbles of assent and the four ponies, somewhat unwillingly, went their separate ways.
Rarity was the first to reach a goal of any kind, though it wasn't exactly what she was looking for. About half a mile down the dark forest path she had come across a small squirrel sitting on the ground surrounded by unmarked bottles, some of them broken. His fur was messy and matted in sticky patches. Despite the fact that her friends had recently been kidnapped by squirrels just like this one, the state of his fur brought tears to her eyes. Gently she knelt beside him and carefully combed through it with a small purple comb. Within minutes his fur was returned to its natural light brown softness and some of the clouds were gone from his eyes. He looked up at her gently, respectfully, and somewhat regretfully before pulling a small clump of the little purple flowers from behind his back.
Rarity was initially startled, but before she could register any recognition of the Fleurs de Bonheur a scent filled her nose that reminded her of home. In it she could smell the cool crisp air in the apple orchards, the warm smell of cooking apples wafting through the windows of Apple Jack's home. She could smell Twilight's city girl perfume, one of the parts of her old lifestyle that she could not get rid of, and the dusty smell of old books in the library where Twilight lived. She could smell the woodsy scent that always clung to Fluttershy when she returned from her explorations in the woods, and Pinkie Pie's signature party mix of sweat and happiness. Hiding underneath it all was a slight scent that reminded her of a strong wind blowing in her face. Dash. A fragment of fear surfaced in her mind before she was enveloped in pure happiness, without err. The squirrel mumbled an apology and led her off of the path.
She watched as miles of forest passed her by, spotting happy butterflies in moths, and seeing smiley faces in the sinister trees. They went so far into the forest that no sunlight came through the tops of the trees, and both of them were soon tripping over stones and fallen branches. Fortunately before any serious damage could be done they broke out of the forest to find themselves standing across the moat from an impressive stone castle.
"Charming, simply charming!" cried Rarity, when in reality there was nothing charming about it. It was a large gray stone castle, undecorated, slightly crumbling. You could see where a fire had scorched the outer wall years ago, and the jagged ridge where the top of a tower had fallen off. It was old, and ugly. An old wooden drawbridge with rusty metal holding it together fell down over the moat. Some of the wood was rotted and sagged when you stepped on it, and a few large bloodstains marred the surface, but it held as the crossed it and entered the castle courtyard. It was here that even the effect of the flower could not keep Rarity from feeling fear.
The walls were still stone, with arches leading down corridors to the left and right, and a great wooden door directly ahead. Mounted on the walls were enormous banners in light green and purple announcing something in French. Though she did not know the language, Rarity sounded out the words to ask Twilight about later. "Toute la grele Reine Tilly." What really shook her up though, was that, mounted on the walls between the banners, were the heads of ponies, their manes glued in place, their eyes glassy. Glancing around the walls at the faces, frozen in shock, she recognized two young ponies that had gone missing from Ponyville in the past year. How long had this been going on? Bile rose in her throat and she struggled against her captor, but by now there were many squirrels, all around her. They dragged her down one of the passages and threw her into one of the many cells along it. They locked the doors and left, her original captor pausing for a minute to look back at her, his eyes full of remorse. She settled down on the small pile of straw in the corner and cried, thinking of the squirrel, the poor filly's who had died so you, and mostly of how she had failed her friends. Right as this thought entered her head the door of her cell was opened and she was joined by Apple Jack and Twilight. They sat down in two of the other corners and glared at each other. Apple Jack was the first to break the silence.
"Don' give me that look. He was hungry! And I had food, what was I supposed to do, say no? Besides, you got caught too."
"Yes, and it was particularly shameful." She shook her mane. "He was just a baby… and he was lost… I should have known better."
"Aw Twilight there ain't no shame in that!" The cell door was opened again, and Pinkie walked in, struggling against her own squirrels.
"That party was the least fun I've ever had in YEARS!" She yelled at their retreating backs before throwing herself into the final corner of the room.
"They got to us through our weaknesses…." Muttered Twilight. "They watched us, and used us against ourselves. The flowers helped though. I can't believe that the squirrels are intelligent enough to plan something like this… and why? They have always been good friends with Fluttershy's family, and we treated them well, why the sudden uprising?" The sound of the cell door creaking open was becoming familiar to them, but this time nopony walked in. Instead Fluttershy's body was carefully carried into the room by about twenty squirrels, half of them with tears in their eyes. They laid her carefully in the center of the room and stood by in a huddle, waiting to hear if she was okay, Twilight, recognizing her duty, stood and examined her friend.
"She is alive, but unconscious. What happened to her?" The squirrels exhaled collectively, and then one of them stepped forward to answer her question.
"It was Tilly. We told her that Fluttershy had always been kind to us, and that above all others we didn't want to see her harmed, but she didn't listen. She attacked Fluttershy in midair, sent her tumbling to the ground." Rarity cut into his monologue.
"Wait, who is Tilly? I saw her name on the banners in the courtyard, 'Toute la grele Reine Tilly'. Who is she?"
"All Hail Queen Tilly." Mumbled Twilight. "That's what it means, is Tilly your leader?"
"She is our Queen. We worship the very ground she walks upon, for her beauty encompasses that of the entire world. At first we could not help it, we loved her unconditionally and her every wish was our command. About a year ago a small group of squirrels wanted out, after the killing of the fillies. They found one way, though most did not want it. We thought them crazy and continued worshiping."
"What was that way out?" asked Apple Jack.
"Death." A cold hush fell over the room. "They threw themselves into the moat from the top of the wall. Like I said, we thought them crazy, but now we have found another way. Compassion lets us out, feeling sorry for somebody else. That is what those other ponies did not know, that they were already free from their servitude, they needed only abandon the next mission. You set us free today, a large group of us."The ponies looked at each other in confusion. What had they done? "You, white pony with the comb, sat down and combed out Lionel's fur even though you knew him to be the enemy, because you felt sorry for him. Pink pony, you threw the greatest party that these guys had ever been to, cause their party needed serious help. Purple pony helped one of our young, just because he was young and lost, and Tan pony fed Miles' hunger. And then there is Fluttershy… poor Fluttershy…" His voice grew soft and the tears returned to the eyes of many in his party. His words for Fluttershy didn't need to be spoken; everypony there already knew what needed to be said. Fluttershy was the perfect friend, kind but honest, she could keep a secret and was always the shoulder to lean on.
"So, you no longer feel this innate devotion to your Queen Tilly?" Asked Pinkie Pie cautiously. The squirrel in front shook himself from his reverie.
"Of course we still feel a certain devotion to her, but we now realize how she used us, and we can no longer love her with that in mind. The only one of us that ever truly loved her was Charlie, and she is his entire world in a way that she never was for us, which is why she only trusts him with the big missions. Aside from him, the squirrels are at your service." The squirrel bowed his head and moved out of the cell's doorway, allowing them room to pass. At this moment Fluttershy opened her eyes and, after shaking herself a bit, leapt into the air.
"Where is she? I'll kill her!" She cried, louder than any of her friends had ever heard her. She looked around at her friends, their eyes widened in surprise, and alighted, somewhat calmer. "Would anypony care to point me in the direction of the nearest adorable mini Pegasus?" The other ponies' confusion was clear on their faces.
"Are you sure she's okay Twilight?" asked Rarity. "She seems a mite confused."
"She's not confused, she's talking about Tilly." Answered the squirrel.
"What?" Cried all of the ponies simultaneously.
"That witch has a name?" Screamed Fluttershy.
"She's a PEGASUS?" Cried the others.
"Well yes and yes. Fluttershy?" The squirrel approached her slowly. "Can you ever forgive us for turning against you?" Her whole demeanor softened and she knelt so that she could look him in the eye.
"Of course I can Nymph, what kind of a friend would I be if I didn't? And now that I have met this Tilly I completely understand your infatuation. I myself probably would have loved her, had she not knocked me out of the sky. Can we go destroy her now?" The squirrels behind Nymph were rejoicing but came to attention as soon as she said the word, "destroy". The other ponies decided that they would just have to see this Tilly for themselves, and the whole group left the cell in a grim march, four of the ponies in the front, Fluttershy and Nymph behind them and the rest of the squirrels taking up the rear.
Tilly was lovable from the very minute you saw her, indeed hard not to love. She was, as aforementioned, a miniature Pegasus, her coat a pale sage green. Her tail and mane were both long and curly and were a mixture of a brighter grassy green and a vivid purple. Her wings matched her coat but the feathers branched out into purples and greens as well. Her eyes were enormous, taking up most of her face, and were a deep chocolate brown, full of innocence. The only somewhat sinister thing about her was her cutie mark, a small red heart broken in half, a tiny drop of blood welling up at the bottom. At her side was Charlie, the squirrel said to actually love her.
"Awww… she's so cute!" cried Pinkie Pie upon sight. The other ponies, with the exception of Fluttershy, were busy thinking the same thing. In fact, Fluttershy was too busy to be thinking anything, as on her arrival in the doorway a cage had dropped down on top of her, trapping her in place and keeping the other squirrels from entering the room. Of course, it did not take the ponies long to realize this fact, but the clumps of purple flowers in sconces on the walls eased their reaction quite a bit. In fact, they were all quite convinced that Fluttershy was the enemy, and that Tilly was their best friend. Without hesitation they sat down and started listening to her tell how she got here, ignoring Fluttershy's shouted warnings.
"Well let's see, I suppose I should start back when I was a filly. I always looked this way of course, and it was quite helpful when it came to friendships, but during my teenage years I realized that it was more than just my good looks that made people love me, it was my whole demeanor! That was how I got my cutie mark, but I couldn't get what I wanted, what I now realized I deserved, out of Ponyville. So I left. I found that my ability also worked on the denizens of the forest, and that I could make THEM do whatever I wanted, those being weaker minded than ponies. The squirrels were perfect, not too much loyalty to anyone else, and almost completely loyal to me. I made them kidnap and murder young foals and fillies to prove their loyalty, and soon they only had one weakness. Fluttershy. The pony I heard so much about, and the only one, for them, who took precedent over me. Except dear Charlie here. He's such a good boy.
"I finally came up with the perfect plot, one that would allow me to capture the Princess Luna and meet Fluttershy for myself. I knew the princess's friends would come for her, and that you were no match for me. I could destroy you all, and with you some of Equestria's greatest heroes. AS for the bigger part of the plan, Princess Celestia will gladly sacrifice herself for her younger sister, and Equestria will have no day without my say so. Complete power. Ah, it all worked out so perfectly. No one can stop me now!"
"Really now? Someone's getting awfully cocky! I don't really like you, time to give your wings some practice little fella!" A loud voice called from the window above where Tilly stood. The ponies all looked up, startled, just in time to see a rainbow blur swoop down and knock Tilly off of her feet.
"Dash!" cried Fluttershy from her cage. At the mention of their friends name sense returned to the other ponies and they looked around for the friend that they had chased off this morning. Sure enough, there was Rainbow Dash, wings spread resting in full glory down at the other end of the room.
"Yes, it's me. You guys miss me? I know I missed you… missed you so much that I ran right into a tree and it dumped tree sap on me."She stopped talking at a quiet tsk tsk from Rarity.
"Honey do you even know how hard it is to comb out tree sap? I'm gonna be up hours worrying about you!"Dash blew her off and continued.
"Anyway, it's a good thing I did, cause when I looked up I saw this giant castle thingy and decided to investigate. That's how I got here." He beamed proudly. "As for you miss Tilly, I accept your challenge. You said nobody could stop you now? Well It. Is. ON." With that she dove once more towards Tilly, who still lay on the floor. In an attempt to protect her, her loyal friend Charlie threw himself into Dash's way, catching a hoof to the chest that sent him hurtling into the wall. He slid to the floor, a thin trail of blood dripping from his mouth. He turned toward Tilly, who looked back at him, a touch of fear in her eyes.
"Tilly, I love you." He whispered, but the whole room heard. To their dismay, she snorted in contempt.
"Love? What do you know of love? I loved once, a young foal known as Big Macintosh…" she sighed sadly and didn't seem to catch the gasp that Apple Jack quickly disguised as a cough. "He was so big and strong… but he was the only foal that didn't seem to like me. He broke my heart." She looked sharply back at where Charlie lay dying on the floor. "Next to him, who could love a squirrel like you?" She stood, turned her back on him, and rose into the air. "As for my plan, I can still fix it; all I have to do is defeat you, Rainbow Dash." With that she charged towards Dash with full tiny person anger, and met a hoof to the face. Rainbow Dash looked down at the small form pitifully.
"Such a pretty pony, and so smart… she could've gone far. Are you guys okay?" She inquired, turning to her friends. They all nodded assent when suddenly there was a loud creaking sound and the cage was lifted from around Fluttershy. Startled, everypony turned towards Charlie, who now stood off to the side of the pedestal, clutching a lever.
"I am truly sorry Fluttershy, for what I did. You never wronged any of us, and I hope that you will take care of my family and friends for me, and understand that all that I did was out of love. Now please, leave me in peace. I promise that Tilly and I will never bother you, or Ponyville, again." He slowly crawled to Tilly's side and curled up in the crook of her neck. Without a word everypony left, the squirrels following close behind and silently made their out of the great hall. With the squirrels as guides they released Princess Luna from her prison and took her back to Ponyville, where everypony rejoiced and the party went on full swing. Later that night Twilight wrote a letter to Princess Celestia describing the events of that day.
"… the Princess is now safely back in the hooves of her loyal subjects in Ponyville. However, I wrote to you tonight not only to tell you of our adventure, but to confide in you. The events of today have shaken me, in my mind. How someone can do something so drastic, and that they will forever hate themselves for in the name of love, or love disappointed, it frightens me. I have always thought of love as a good thing. Who would've thought that, in truth, it could be the power behind the greatest of evils?"The letter was swiftly sent, and more so swiftly was an answer received.
"My dear Twilight, Do not think of it in that light. Think instead that the good love that bound you to your friends defeated this worst of evils, and that of all of the ponies in Ponyville only one was driven to evil by love. In truth, here in Equestria, love is a beautiful and wonderful thing, and those few cases that are not so are easily defeated by the power of friendship."