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Bramble Rose

Collecting Spores, Molds, and Fungi

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It was a crisp, clear day near Ponyville, the pegasus ponies had started transitioning to their autumn weather patterns, and had been bringing down cool air from up North. The leaves had started to change, a simple process that Bramble found all the more fascinating from his particular viewpoint - so much magic, completely ignored by most ponies!

Bramble Rose was taking advantage of this fine day to carefully venture into the Everfree Forest, just a little, for one last research trip for strange and interesting plant species - not that he wouldn't also do a couple of those in the winter, but winter-blooming flowers were much more rare. He'd packed his bags, put a few pots into a small cross-country cart, and had hauled it on over to the Everfree Forest with an eagerness that didn't quite cancel out his nervousness at going into this dangerous place. No matter how often he ventured in here, he was always much too aware of its danger. Not many places just looking at something funny could finish you.

Still, it was the best place for strange and unusual plants, and he had several greenhouses that were wanting more variety. And when they were full, he'd build a new greenhouse!

Now, mushrooms didn't really count as plants, they were fungi, but these particular mushrooms had grabbed Bramble's attention all the same. Small, white mushrooms with tall caps, they looked for all the world like Destroying Angel mushrooms ... until Bramble had noticed a faint flicker out of the corner of his eye every time he'd taken a step past them.

His horn and pack glowed green as it opened itself, then a green-glowing mirror floated out of it, hovering down to slip into place underneath one of the patches of mushrooms. Yup! The ribs underneath were blue, not white! And over here, a patch of green ones ... and over here, some purples! These were only masquerading as Destroying Angels, but in truth, they were the much more interesting Dancing Angels, so named for that flicker you see walking past. He left the mirror lay there as he tested it out.

"DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM" he intoned deeply, his hoof stomping the time on the forest floor, and with each sound the blue underside glowed briefly, responding to the vibrations. Bramble grinned widely, and kept stomping his hoof, but his lips instead pursed as he let out a quick "wubwubwubwubwubwub, wubwubwubwubwubwub" and the purple and green mushrooms flickered rapidly in response, alternating back and forth, the colors washing across the forest floor just under the mushroom patches.

Bramble grinned eagerly. They could still hold a honorary place in Bramble's night-blooming greenhouse ... they'd be *so much fun* to dance through! And he bet he could modify his plant-growing spell to make them a big bigger, their lights a bit brighter, and sell them to clubs. They'd make a great base for a light show! He glanced around, then grinned a little. Plus, he'd heard of a pretty neat side effect...

With his magic, he plucked one of the smallest angels there, and lifted it up into the air, his mouth opening to take just the littlest nip.

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About four months ago, Fungus Amungus set out into the Everfree forest because that's where all the science is. The young stallion could only imagine the mold and spores and mushrooms unseen by pony eyes! Such youthful vigor was pumping through him as he loaded up his cart with supplies of all sorts and set out into the uncharted wilderness. He would fear no darkness, no monsters, no isolation. And oh, those first four months, while trying (heck, downright dangerous at times), were glorious. In no time, his cart was full of samples and notes and photos. The towering toadstools as tall as trees! Self-inflating puffballs that floated into the sky! Stunning lightshows made by a rainbow of bioluminescence! One night, having fought off food poisoning for the seventy-third time, he mused of getting his doctorate for this. The smell of the damp and the smell of paper. This was the work he was born for.

Then poor Fungus ran out of ink. Oh, briefly (three days) he panicked. Then, the clever self-taught biologist managed to mortar and pestle himself some ink out of berries and the like. Crisis averted. A week later, his camera ran out of film. But that's okay. His skills with a sketch book were decent. So seven mornings were spent making ink instead of sticking his head into rotting logs. Then the last of his quills broke and, with that, so did he. Forget food and water. Without a practical way to document his observations, this trek suddenly lost all meaning. He could be at home on the farm. Or at Canterlot U, trying to apply. So, desperately, he ran. Every waking moment was spent running northwest towards civilization, through the rain and the muck and the darkness.

What he wouldn't give for Celestia's sunrise again. Was it morning right now? He couldn't tell. Forest canopies blotted out most of both the sun and moon, but swamp gases gave off light of their own. Depressed, the backyard mycologist almost missed the distinct rainbow flicker of the Dancing Angels. Almost, as these were everywhere deep in the forest, blinking once or twice as a Timberwolf ran by. But wait. There was a pattern, unnatural, in the lights. A rhythm. The stallion was in full gallop now, as fast as his legs could carry him, towards what was clearly intelligent life! Science hadn't abandoned him after all!

There it was! Glorious sunlight! Free of the forest! And, despite the blinding pain of light stroke, he could see something distinctly pony shaped! Overcome by joy, he leaped from the burden of his cart and into a sixty-mile-an-hour flying hug.

"FREEDOM!"

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Bramble let out a *WHOOF* as the air was knocked out of him, leaving the little Dancing Angel floating briefly in mid-air. The blue-and-white mushroom turned over in the air, then dropped down to land in the loamy turf, while Bramble lay there with little mushrooms and roses swirling around his head.

What *hit* him? Did anyone get the cutie mark of that cart driver?! And what was that smell ...

His eyes cleared a bit, enough to see the cutie mark on the flank his nose was pressed into. "Nnnngh... Fungee?" he groaned, a bit painfully. "We gotta stop meeting this way ... that wasn't a Destroying Angel! ... this time!"

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Fungus Amongus heard none of that. Oh, the sound reached his ears, which then registered as speech. But for the moment, his isolation-addled brain could not put together any other kind of connection. Right now, all he heard was speech that wasn't his own. Huzzah! That alone made it the most heavenly sound in all of Equestria. Despite seeing next to nothing due to terrible light stroke, he scooped that little noise maker up in his forelegs and squeezed. Whatever this thing was deserved the finest bear hug of its life. How grateful the Earth Pony was for this spectacular talking thing! After a brief dance (there may have been spinning) with his new and yet unidentifiable friend, it began to voice its disapproval. Coincidentally, at approximately the same time, his vision decided to work again. In a flash, the splendor of Equestria came back to him. The biggest shock? There was a little unicorn he hadn't seen in quite a long time suddenly in his forelegs.

"Rosie? When did you get here?" Here, meaning the hug. Brain still addled. The brute set his friend down, gently too, only to marvel at how... different the size difference was. They were about the same size when last they saw each other. Right? How long was it since the last letters? With more than a little concern in his eyes, he mentioned to Bramble "The book was right, you know. One side does make you grow taller", then ran to his cart, rummaging through drawers for the one side that will make him grow shorter!

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Bramble Rose groaned as his ribs creaked in a most unsettling manner, and he suddenly realized that breathing was *really nice*. A truly enjoyable past time, breathing. This thing he had truly not fully valued until just this moment when he suddenly couldn't.

He gasped and struggled to breath, then suddenly was dropped, and sucked in great big heaping lungfuls of air. He didn't even notice or flinch at the girly old nickname Fungus used to call him all the time. "Ahhh... ahhh... Fungee!" he gasped, head spinning. "What ... what are y'all ... Ah live here! What are *y'all* doin' here? What're y'all talkin' 'bout? Stop movin' fer a moment!" He found his soft voice slipping easily into the Western drawl that he'd always used whenever he saw Fungus when they were foals, out traveling with his father and visiting the more rural half of his family...

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"Stop moving?" With but a single twitch, Fungus's eyes met Rosie's. It was as if the concept of 'Stop moving' was completely foreign to him. "Stop moving?!" And then outrage. Panic, even. In a flash, he was up against Rosie, nose to nose. "I can't stop moving! You can't stop moving! You're in terrible danger! I mean, look at me! I'm huge! Colossal! I'm a danger to everyone in- where are we again? Nevermind! You have to run!" He grabbed his long lost friend and shook, because clearly Bramble was the one in hysterics. "And I have to find one of the- Uhm- I haven't actually named them yet! But they're little and blue and they look like peanuts and they shrunk me back to normal those last few times. Fascinating little buggers-"

Just as quickly, little Rosie was plopped back onto the ground and Fungus went back to frantic rummaging, continuing to ramble on and on just the same as before. Journals went flying. Glass clinked against glass. It was amazing that nothing broke. Less so that all the noise drowned out any and all of Rosie's protests to settle down and be rational. Eventually, the husky stallion had to literally bury himself in his work (making him even filthier in the process) to actually find what his prize: A round glass terrarium, filled with much that housed a single mushroom of the description he gave. He was more than pleased with his efforts.

"A-HA! Last one! In your face, Square-Cube Law!" Fungus plucked the cap from its home and down the hatch it went. Then he waited. And waited. And waited.

"Rosie", he finally asked after a long and awkward silence. His voice was deflated. "I'm not really giant, am I?"

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Bramble lets out a long, slow, "Ummmmmm.... re... Remember when y'all taught me not t'eat any 'shrooms that y'all din't know th' name of?" Bramble asked hesitantly. "Fungee, y'all ain't giant. Yer a biggun, sure nuff, but no more'n other stallions ah've seen. What... what all've y'all been eatin'?" He followed after the larger stallion, forgetting about his own plant-hunt in the shock of seeing his old friend. He poked lightly at one of the patchy spots on his coat. "Ain't y'all been usin' that anti-fungal ointment ah whipped up fer y'all? What've y'all been up to? Yer mails jes suddenly stopped an' no one knew where y'all went tae!"

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"But that's the beauty of it!", Fungus chirped. He was absolutely thrilled to once again share his hobbies with a dear friend and intellectual peer. "I don't know the names of ANY of these!" These, being emphasized by the sudden legfuls of bottles and petri dishes and miniature terrariums. In those glass containers were collections of molds, spores and fungi of boggling shapes and sizes and characteristics. To highlight, in what was once a fish bowl sat a mushroom that was literally laughing at them. From a mouth. "I haven't found documentation for anything in this cart!" He added more emphasis, slapping a hoof against the not-quite-sturdy-anymore wooden walls of his transportation. "Soooooo, yeah, I may have been eating some of them. Little bits. But it's not like I got food poisoning or anything. Well, once. Twice. FINE, it was nine times! But I ran out of rations! And your ointment. And stationary. Rosie, I've been in there a while. But it's fine now! I'm out and you're here", he continued to rant as he climbed out from his storage, ungracefully tripping and landing chin first in the dirt. He didn't notice. "Wherever we are."

"So, you and me, buddy. We'll head into town and I can contact my folks and maaaaaaaybe", there was suddenly a mischievous gleam in his eyes, "You could introduce me to a professor or two. The kind who can offer research grants." There was now a foreleg around little Rosie, who was pulled close enough to properly show the grin he had stretched across his face. His eyebrows jerked up twice. For emphasis.

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Bramble had that shocked expression for just a little longer ... and then he let out a soft *huff* of laughter and shook his head ruefully. He could recognize the signs of a researcher in the throes of discovery. "All right, Fungee," he relented. "But if'n y'all kin get any of those research grantin' professors, make sure t' aim one er two mah way? Ah reckon ah wouldn't mind a slick city-type fundin' mah own research." He looked Fungus Amongus up and down one more time. "But first, pardner, yer gettin' some real food." He squeeeezed out of the exuberant stallion's grasp and went to his saddlebags, pulling out a fresh dandelion-and-clover sandwich, on two thick slices of fresh-baked bread he'd just gotten from the baker this morning. His lunch. It was only with the briefest of pangs that he offered it kindly to his old friend.

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"Real food?" He was almost offended. Rosie should know better! After all, those were fightin' words. "I'll have you know that besides riboflavin and potassium, mushrooms contain high concentrations of glutam-" And then Fungie's rant was over before it began. It has been a while since he ate anything that didn't have a cap on it and the smell that rushed from little Rosie's saddle bags contained a more potent magic than any Unicorn could fathom. The big ole stallion was practically mesmerized. "Glutamic acid..." His willpower was just about gone at this point.

"No!" Winding down now. "That's your sandwich and I really couldn't..." Three. "We could split it..." Two. "Trade ya for somethin' out the cart..." One. "THANK YA KINDLY!"

And like that, Bramble's lunch was gone. Nearly inhaled even. Despite its humble origins, Fungus could consider this nothing less than a culinary masterpiece. In fact, the poor guy was practically moved to tears. Until he nearly choked. He had to give himself one good sock to the chest to get things moving again.

"...I'm okay... promise..."

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Bramble smiled and laughed his light laugh to see his lunch disappear so hungrily. "Well, y'all are quite welcome, pardner! Ah was doin' a survey of species t'day, but ah reckon ah kin cut that short to go head off an' rustle up some grub an' gear from Ponyville. Y'all fancy a bit more food that ain't growin' in th' dark?"

He stepped to his packs and shrugged into them, smiling resignedly but fondly as he cinched the strap. One of his oldest friends, and perhaps a little more scatterbrained than usual, but not terribly. Perhaps after he got some food in him he'd settle down. Granny Piñas always used to say there weren't no problem what couldn't be made better by havin' a good meal under ye.

He turned around in a slow circle... Ponyville was... hrm. If he came over that ridge, and before that he'd been mucking in that cave ... Ponyville should be that way, right? Yeah, surely! They could take a shortcut!

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"Survey?" Fungie's ears perked up. Survey implied science and let's face it, this stallion was married to his work. He was practically wagging his tail at the idea, despite his work nearly sending him to an early grave. The thought of working with his dear friend certainly helped matters, as he couldn't recall any instance of this happening in any kind of formal settings. He blushed at the thought of both their names on a dissertation. "Like the local flora kind of survey? Are you sure you want to skip to the end? I mean, you have an extra set of hooves with you now and lunch could always be put off until-" And then, in protest. Fungie's stomach growled. Such a terrible liar.

"Okay, fine, you win", he whined. "A bigger lunch first."

The rickety old schooner (which was brand new before its trip through the Everfree!) groaned and cracked as the bulky Earth Pony bore its weight by the tongue again. He, or rather his back, would have been sour about it, but the circumstances this time were much more peaceful.

"But hold on a sec. Ponyville? Is that where I am?"

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Bramble Rose laughed softly. "Eyup, jes' outside of Ponyville! And Ah've been working on this survey for months, one short day isn't goin' to make or break it. We kin come back after we get a good mass of vittles! We'll stop off at mah place, put yer things in mah greenhouse, an' move on to a cafe!"

Bramble smirked, leaning close to Fungus, noting the effect that food was having on him. "There's sandwiches... hay fries... pie..." He started back to his cart, grinning maniacally. Wow, what a coincidence, running into him here, of all places. "Ohmigosh, Fungee, ah can't wait t' catch up with you! It's been a coon's age!" He scooped up the Dancing Angels and tucked a few of them into terrariums, along with the rich soil they were growing in. "And y'all would not believe how crazy college was. Ah got into *so much trouble* at th' frat parties an' stuff, it's amazing Ah wasn't kicked out! Why, there was this one time..."

By the time they reached Bramble's place - a little shack outside of Ponyville with several greenhouses around it - and another one halfway through being built - he was almost done with the story. "So that's when my buddy in the theatre club holds up the mare's keys and he says, 'Not without these, she won't!' " Bramble laughs ruefully, shaking his head at the memory. "It was so late Ah just crashed at his place for the night, and we high-tailed it to class the next morning. Curtain actually wrangled t' slip the keys *back* inta her saddlebags, sly as a fox in a chicken pen, an' made her think she just hadn't noticed them there all night long, and we actually got away with it! Ah dunno that sorority ever figured out who those two fillies were, an' ah don't rightly know what he did with alla those feather boas."

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This was just bloody perfect! After enjoying a pretty nice walk down the road from Ponyville and around the White Tail Woods, Presteza had found herself coming upon a rather comfy looking house. Surrounded by several greenhouses and one unfinished one. After taking a look at the mailbox she was able to figure out this was the house of none other than Bramble Rose, a really nice stallion she had met while assisting in the latest Zap apple Harvest for the apple family. When she'd met Brambles he seemed like a pretty nice pony and definitely someone worth talking to again so she resolved to wait for him at his house, however it seemed the nearby garden didn't approve of her presence as soon her allergies acted up and it resulted in a fit that teleported her to the roof of the house and left her stuck.

Normally Presteza would have simply jumped down and use some of her wind magic to soften the landing... but in her previous sneezing fit she'd apparently also(unknowingly) teleported her bag into a bush and with the brush inside the bag she was stranded and unable to do any magic to get herself down. Now the pony was stuck pacing back and forth on the roof and cursing her nose all the while and glaring a bit at the gardens below.

After laying down and resting on the roof for a good hour, her ears perked up as she heard somepony approaching. Pulling herself to her hooves she looked over the side of the roof and smiled as she looked down upon Bramble and his friend,"Oh thank Celestia, yer finally 'ere! I was worried ya went on some kinda vacation!... um do ya 'ave a ladder so I can get down?"

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Deep within the Everfree Forest, many a nocturnal creature from every link in the food chain lie sleeping, resting up for another night of hunting and gathering. Conversely, at this very moment some miles away in Ponyville, a delicate egg white foam has been folded into a cheesy cream mixture and set to bake at 375 degrees. Neither beast nor baker was anticipating their plans ruined. But, sure enough, at the epicenter of this all, a belly laugh of mythic proportions. Suddenly, what was to be a rich and airy culinary masterpiece was reduced to an unappetizing looking goo bubbling at the bottom of a ramekin. The cook, a chubby cyan mare with a pink swirl for a mane, wept for days afterward. Meanwhile in the forest, bird and beast alike were shaken awake. While Everfree is no stranger to chaos, Canterlot scientists and one Zebra would remain baffled at the level of property damage some spooked animals can do without their beauty sleep.

Ignorant of this was Fungus Amongus, who was too busy holding his sides to form coherent sentences, let alone consider the consequences of his lack of volume control. But come on. If you were listening to an anecdote about cross-dressing, Poison Joke and free cider, you would be in stitches too.

It felt good to laugh again, thought Fungie as he was wiping a few tears from his eyes. And not the nervous kind of 'please don't eat me' laugh, either. This was a good, right from the diaphragm, genuinely funny and lighthearted laugh. He relished it, feeling anxiety just wash right off of him. Being close to Rosie was helping matters as well. The little Unicorn was an inspiration at this point, a tiny purple promise of warm apple pie and stories of the good life. So much so in fact that as he was listening to tales of co-ed shenanigans, a twinge of jealousy nagged at him, wishing that he had followed Bramble to Canterlot. If this Curtain Call guy could make it in on a scholarship for the arts, then surely he and his brilliant mind could make it in on microbiology!

The mismatched pair made it to Bramble's humble cottage in no time (to Fungus, at least. He was laughing the entire way). And he would have gotten a first impression had it not been for another Unicorn precariously perched on his roof! It didn't look like a jump he would ever feel like making, nor one he would wish on anypony without a set of wings strapped to them. She should really have a ladder with or or something, he thought. But hold on, she's asking for something. Something he couldn't make out the first time. Something about a vacation. He stood looking up at her for a moment or two, trying to process her pleas.

Oh!

The oaf nearly flipped his cart getting out of the harness but he was quick to pull his own ladder (some puffballs only grow on tree tops) out from the undercarriage. He was less quick to unfold it. Even less so to perch it properly against Bramble's home without breaking a window. The poor guy was panicking, give him a break.

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Bramble Rose found his attention drawn away from catching up with an old friend as he blinked and looked up to Presteza in surprise. What the ... how ... no, wait. WHY ... Yes, that was the question.

Then he was just standing back and smirking with amusement as Fungus worked to get his ladder out. "Don't y'all worry yerself none, Miss Presteza!" he called up cheerfully. "We'll have y'all down here safe an' sound afore y'all know it!" Hooo, boy. Between these two, he was going to be twanging all day! Ah well. No harm done there.

"Ah know ah asked y'all by fer tea sometime, but ah can't imagine as to what possessed y'all t'think that tea would be served on th' roof!" Bramble teased good-naturedly, in a whimsical mood what with sharing old college stories and the like.

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"Don't y'all worry yerself none, Miss Presteza! We'll have y'all down here safe an' sound afore y'all know it!"

"Ah know ah asked y'all by fer tea sometime, but ah can't imagine as to what possessed y'all t'think that tea would be served on th' roof!"

The mare sniffled and chuckled a moment, poking her head over the side to address the two stallions as one of them brought a ladder over. At first Presteza had a hard time believing it was actually her new friend Brambles speaking to her, in the time she'd met him she'd only heard him speak in a refined and almost academic manner. She really didn't mind the accent though, if anything she found characteristic 'country twang' rather charming. Charming or not though, she only saw fit to fight good natured teasing with good natured teasing, "Oh har dee har har" started out the mare, although with her own non-rhotic accent the "har"s sounded like "hah"s. "Wot's with the new accent, mate? Did ya swallow one o' the apple family r' somethin'?" she asked sticking her tongue out at the stallion with a playful smirk.

Once the stocky, buff colored stallion got his ladder into place the mare smiled at him and quickly galloped to the side of the roof he leaned the tool against, "Thanks alot, mate" Carefully the mare began to descend and landed on the ground seemingly breathing through only her mouth as she approached the two, "Sorry about that..."

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Not a problem. Though Rosie is absolutely right! Tea should not be served on I sure bet it's up to code but the slants all wrong for keeping a beverage steady, hot or otherwise. You would spill it! And break the china. And your neck. That looks like at least a... hmm...” He was actually doing the math in his head. “Sixteen foot drop. You would be looking at a few weeks hospital at the bare minimum, depending on how you land. Hooo boy, you're looking at anything from a fractured leg to... oh, I dunno. Something nasty. If you landed on your flanks, there would be broken vertebra. Spinal cord damage. Definitely the possibility of never being able to walk again. Not to mention the loss of bowel contro-

Fungus was getting that look from Rosie again. That 'You're saying too much you're grossing us out please stop' look he so often got when trying and failing to make conversation with potential new friends.

I. Am. Going. To. Put. The. Ladder. Away. Sorry. Shutting. Up. Now.

The faster he went to putting his hooves to work, the faster he didn't have to think about talking. But he thought about talking anyway. Which meant he was too distracted to notice how he folded his tool. Two latches her undone and it swung down, bonking him in the back of the head.

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Bramble Rose blushed at her gentle teasing, his purple cheeks pinkening. "Ah din't-" he started, then tried to suppress the accent. "Ah din't-" ARGH. It was hard to stop once it'd started! Ah, who cared? He wasn't embarrassed of his father's side of the family! "Th' apple family's not th' only one that talks wi' a Southwestern Twang! Ah'm of th' Agave family, an' we're South ah th' Western Apples an' West ah th' Suthern Apples!" Admittedly, most of the family had a rather different and faster sort of accent, but still.

But then Fungus started talking, and it sounded like his usual nervous free-association from whenever he met new ponies. Bramble simply gave him The Look, head tilted slightly, eyes slightly widened, till he tapered off. Good boy. Glad to know that still worked.

"Y'all will have t' excuse Fungee. That's Fungus Amongus, if'n y'all would know. He's not all that used t'ponies, it seems. An' Fungee, this is a new friend ah mahn by th' name of Presteza, she is -"

And then he winced as the ladder swung around to bonk Fungus. He let out an exasperated sound and trotted on over, his horn glowing to fold that length over again and clasp it shut, then he was close enough to use his hooves to prop it up safely. "Consarn, Fungee, y'all jes' keep hurtin' yerself! Let me see." His hooves were gentle as he parted Fungus' mane, checking his scalp. Didn't hurt himself too bad, though one point on his skull seemed tender. "Yup, y'all have a goose egg theah. We'll get some ice at th' cafe."

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"Ah din't- Ah din't- Th' apple family's not th' only one that talks wi' a Southwestern Twang! Ah'm of th' Agave family, an' we're South ah th' Western Apples an' West ah th' Suthern Apples!"

Not a problem. Though Rosie is absolutely right! Tea should not be served on I sure bet it's up to code but the slants all wrong for keeping a beverage steady, hot or otherwise. You would spill it! And break the china. And your neck. That looks like at least a... hmm...” He was actually doing the math in his head. “Sixteen foot drop. You would be looking at a few weeks hospital at the bare minimum, depending on how you land. Hooo boy, you're looking at anything from a fractured leg to... oh, I dunno. Something nasty. If you landed on your flanks, there would be broken vertebra. Spinal cord damage. Definitely the possibility of never being able to walk again. Not to mention the loss of bowel contro-

"Y'all will have t' excuse Fungee. That's Fungus Amongus, if'n y'all would know. He's not all that used t'ponies, it seems. An' Fungee, this is a new friend ah mahn by th' name of Presteza, she is -"

I. Am. Going. To. Put. The. Ladder. Away. Sorry. Shutting. Up. Now.

As Presteza watched Brambles and "Fungee" have their back and forth her mind drifted back to the books about old comedic duos in Equestria. These two seemed to have that sort of vibe going for them. The style was only assisted by Bramble's own over the top accent which Presteza had to admit was actually pretty cute, as was his getting his mane in a bunch over her playful teasing of it.

This Friend of his named Fungus seemed to be pretty nice, if a bit overly descriptive of how bad things would have been if she had fallen. Pressy's own vivid and picturesque imagination didn't help her weather Fungus' words either. The image of her falling to the ground and landing on her backside transitioned to an animated X-ray image of her spine cracking into bits and another image of the possibility of her legs breaking. Luckily for the mare, it seemed her friend brambles had one of those unspoken bonds that allowed him and Fungus to communicate through a look and as a result Fungus quieted himself down and started putting away the ladder.

Once the unpleasant images left her mind, Presteza chuckled a bit but let out some coughs and still her voice sounded slightly stuffy as she insisted on not breathing through her nose. "Anyway Thanks again fer yer help you guys... Um... could we get back indoors soon? I don't wanna risk my magic messin' up again if I sneeze." sad the freckled mare in the sunhat with an embarrassed grin,"Yer flowers are pretty and all, mate but they play havoc with my nose! By the way, I was just messin' with ya about the accent... it's actually kinda cute!"

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Bramble let out a soft huff of amusement. "Darlin'," he drawled in his light tone, "if'n y'all want t' avoid pollen, y'all might not want t' head into mah house. Why don' y'all join us fer lunch at 'the cafe down th' road? Not too many flowers, but some mighty tasty vittles." It was times like this that Bramble really missed not wearing a hat more often. He didn't know what to do with his hooves when he wasn't wearing a hat, delivering lines like that. Still, he was very glad to see Presteza. They'd met at the Zap Apple harvest, crazy as it was, and though they'd spent several days together, working in the fields with him ducking out every few minutes to mark his recording equipment wasn't all that good for getting to know one another.

But now, here she was, a perfect opportunity! And she had never once even seemed to look at him oddly, or do a double-take. It was like an instant familiarity! He grinned happily to Fungee as he turned and led the way down the road, away from his own flower beds. "Ah hope y'all don' mind her comin' along with us, when we're jes' gettin' t' meet each other again so soon," he whispered to Fungus Amongus. "Ah'm sure we'll have plenty of time later on t' get properly re-acquainted!"

Then Bramble smiled and raised his voice so Presteza could hear, too. "So, Miss Presteza, what might y'all have been doin' comin' round mah house? Ah'm delighted fer your company, a'course, but ah hope ah might also be of service to y'all?"

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