The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 230: Sol 429

Previous Chapter Next Chapter


“Cherry, look at this!”

Cherry Berry paused in her work on the cherry tree next down the row. That work consisted of little more than walking around the trunk as much as possible and thinking happy thoughts at the trunk and roots, but that was just how earth pony magic worked- or, at least, it was all she knew. “What is it, Mark?”

Mark had grasped one of the lower branches of the cherry tree at the top of the row and pulled it down for easier view. “Look at these buds!” he said.

“Yes, I know, Mark,” Cherry said. “The fresh leaves should sprout in about three weeks, I think.” She’d actually had to work a little to make the trees take as much of a nap as they had. Insofar as trees could feel, they felt happy and full of pep. They were impatient to wake up again and resume growing. Rest time was over, and the sheer number of buds suggested there would be a bumper crop of fresh-grown, low-toxin sweet leaves for tea-making just as they were ready to depart.

“No, no!” Mark said. “Look at these buds! See anything different?” He pointed his finger to the clusters of buds out towards the very whip-end of the branch.

Cherry Berry looked. At the moment they just appeared to be buds and- no, wait. These were larger than the leaf buds. A lot larger, although any bud on a cherry tree was going to be tiny. “Are those flower buds?” she asked.

“Can’t be anything else!” Mark grinned. “I actually did a project as part of one of my undergraduate botany courses, going out to Jackson Park every day and monitoring the cherry trees from dormancy to first bud to full bloom. This is exactly what I remember cherry flower buds looking like!”

“That’s wonderful!”

“That’s impossible!” Mark said, still grinning. “These trees are too young, there hasn’t been enough cold weather inside the cave, it’s the wrong time entirely- there’s every reason in the world why this shouldn’t be happening, but it’s happening!”

“Well, of course it’s happening because-“ Cherry’s elation vanished, replaced by a sinking feeling in her tummy. “It’s because the trees know we’re leaving,” she said. “I think they want to say goodbye.”

Mark raised an eyebrow. “Do trees actually think, where you come from?” he asked.

“Hard to say,” Cherry Berry said. “They don’t think like ponies, that’s for sure. But they do have feelings, and they know a little what’s going on around them. And I think they might hear me a bit, the same way I hear them. The same way most earth ponies hear plants, if they learn to listen.”

“So earth ponies aren’t hobbits,” Mark chuckled. “They’re ents.”

“Ha, ha,” Cherry Berry said, sarcastic. “Look, I can believe the trees are thankful for the care we give them, can’t I?”

“Sure, sure,” Mark said in a placating tone. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make fun of you.”

“Good.” Cherry stroked a hoof down the tree trunk. “I really wish we could take them with us,” she said. “All the way home, I mean. I never grew a tree from seed to adulthood before.”

“Look at it this way,” Mark said. “We brought life to a lifeless world and gave it a fighting chance. That’s more than most people get where I come from- animal or plant.”

“I know,” Cherry sighed. “But the first trees I saw all the way through. I’d like to have even just one so I could show-“

Not far above Cherry’s head, something went fwoomp. A few seconds later, it also went crack.

A branch about five hoofwidths long settled almost silently to the ground between Cherry and Mark, covered with fresh green leaves.

Mark looked at Cherry. “Did you just do that?” he asked.

“No,” Cherry answered, shaken. “At least not... I didn't mean to. I don’t know how…”

They stared at the fallen, leaf-covered branch for a long moment.

“The mister!” Cherry shouted. “Take off the cap, it’ll hold water for it to soak in until the roots grow out!”

“Need to find some wire!” Mark shouted back. “If the leaves get into the water, the plant might drown! Cherry trees don’t do well with too much water!”

“I’ll find the wire! You have thumbs, you take care of the mister bottle!”


They rushed off to different parts of the cave, looking for the things they needed, while the stick spread its newborn leaves to catch the magic crystal sunlight.

Author's Notes:

Finished off tomorrow's chapter before I left home, which is good, because that's the only writing time I've had today.

Speaking of time... it's about bedtime. Still a TON of prep due tomorrow...

Next Chapter: Sol 432 Estimated time remaining: 6 Hours, 56 Minutes
Return to Story Description


Login with