The woodland Peophin walked; or rather floated, with careful concentration. The small pile of dirt containing the seedling being awkwardly balanced with both of her hooves.
With a final effort, she slowly lowered the delicate flora into the small opening that was previously dug for it, carefully patting back the excess dirt into the now filled hole.
Nisalia sighed with relief. The seedling, called Midnight Bloom, she had been told, had been entrusted to her by the local village chief. It was said to have magical properties; the most known she knew being that it completely grew in an instant on the eve of every Valentine's Day; which just so happened to be tomorrow.
With her mind relieved of her concentration, she felt free to truly examine the mound. The seedling had a soft glow, visible even through the thin layer of dirt it was being covered by.
She marveled at the sight. Even though she was the newest in her family to act as a caretaker for the forest, she was never quite familiar with plants of the magical variety.
Her family. Nisalia thought back to when her parents gave her new position their blessing, and how quickly their health had thereafter deteriorated. Her father had always said, they were a part of the wood, and it was inevitable that they would return to it when the time came.
She gazed at the tiny mound for a few more moments before realizing that she needed to report to the chief. After mentally berating herself, she rushed out of the clearing, and headed towards the village.
The Peophin had just arrived in Silbor village when the sky began to darken. The small community was one of many settlements surrounding the borders of Meridell and Brightvale, and consequently most people didn't even know it existed. The villagers didn't seem to mind, however. To them, the solitude they had was special in and of itself.
Nisalia waded through the people who were either walking to their houses, or buying some groceries at the outdoor market. After half a minute, she arrived at the house of the chief.
She knocked the door, being careful not to hit it too hard. "Hello? Chief Birk? Um, it's me, Nisalia."
After a moment, a voice responded from behind the it. "Ah! Just give me a moment."
Within a few seconds, the door opened, revealing a grinning Yurble. His yellow fur and clothing were covered with splotches of light-pink liquid.
He seemed unfazed by his appearance as his welcomed the Peophin inside. "Come in, come in. You planted the seedling, correct?"
Nisalia floated inside, staring at the Yurble. "Ah, yes, but... Chief, what happened to you?"
The Yurble seemed to notice his appearance for the first time. "This? Ah, well... I was trying to see if the potion would work without the Midnight Bloom, but it, ah, didn't turn out so well."
The Peophin raised an eyebrow. "Potion?"
The chief rubbed his mane. "Ahhh, that's right. I didn't tell you what we needed the flower for, now did I?"
Nisalia did notice that fact, especially considering how enthusiastically he shoved her out of the house with next to no explanation of the job, the dirt and seedling already in her hooves. She supposed it was stupid of her to have not said anything, but she didn't see it fit to question him when he was in that particular kind of mood.
"Well, then, the Midnight Bloom is a key ingredient in a growth potion of sorts for flora. The entirety of the flower is needed for the potion, not just the petals, leaves, stem or the root. I, ah, just found that out personally." He grimaced.
The Peophin's curiosity overtook her, and she blurted out a question. "What exactly does the potion do, then?"
The Yurble made himself comfortable on a sofa. "Well, as I've said, it seems to accelerate the growth of plants. Vegetables, fruits, trees, it seems anything is affected by it."
The Peophin was shocked. "Really? But, if that's the case, why haven't you tried telling the rest of Neopia about it?"
The chief rubbed his paws together. "Unfortunately, it only seems to affect things in this particular area. Nobody's really quite sure of why that is, but people are thinking it's because the flower was first found on this land. Magic and all, it's really rather unpredictable. Besides which, the flower unfortunately only supplies enough potion for a jar or so. "
He looked at the Peophin with a look of understanding. "If you're wondering what we use it for, by the way, we try to regrow damaged trees and crops for food and coin. It just seems to be the most practical thing to use it for."
Nisalia nodded. "I see."
The Yurble flashed another grin. "Now then, is there anything else you wish to know?"
The Peophin shook her head. "No, I'm fine. But, um, chief?"
She stared blankly at the Yurble. "You do know that you're ruining your sofa, right?"
"Hmm? Ah, drat!"
The white cotton of the sofa had been assaulted by a myriad of light pink spots from his damp fur. Some were smeared, while others seemed to almost have been part of the fabric in the first place.
The chief sighed. "Well, I suppose I'll have to replace this. But thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Nisalia."
The Peophin stifled a small laugh. "Likewise."
With that word, she turned and exited the house, and eventually, the village.
It was almost midnight when Nisalia started yawning. She had decided to camp out at the flower's planting spot, to see it bloom with her own two eyes. The wait was somewhat bearable at first, but now it had become excruciatingly frustrating with how close the time was, along with how sleepy she was feeling. The soft glow of the flower was rather soothing in nighttime, which wasn't helping her stay awake.
To occupy herself, she tried thinking of her next trip to Meridell, and show she would visit Illusen and her apprentice, Taliaca. She revered the faerie, and the Hissi was quite a pleasant conversationalist, along with sharing her love for nature.
She was shaken from her planning by a sudden bright flash. Shielding her eyes, the flash then subsided just as suddenly as it had come.
Slowly, she lowered her hooves, and stared at the flower before her. It was beautiful, with bright purple streaks and light pink spots on each of its delicate petals. Its leaves were shaped like a delicate heart, and its stem was slender, yet firm enough to support the enormous bloom on top of it. All the while, it retained the soft glow it had as a seedling.
The Peophin gazed at it for minutes, mesmerized, before finally shaking herself out. She had seen what she had came to see, and slowly, she got up and headed to her home, leaving the flower for the pets in the village to collect.
When she finally arrived at the old wooden house, she almost collapsed on the ground there and then. She knew she was tired, but she was now feeling absolutely exhausted.
With some effort, she dragged herself to the front door, and absentmindedly pushed the knob until it turned. The inside was full of greenery, with vines and flowers decorated around the walls and ceilings.
With some effort, she floated up the staircase one step at a time, until she eventually reached the second floor; just as decorated as the first.
Opening her room door, she was greeted by a familiar sound in the semi-large fountain installed at the edge of the room.
The mortog croaked on the lily pad. "Ribbit."
The Peophin put on a weak smile. "Hey, Morton."
The mortog hopped off the pad and shook himself in the pool, pleased to see his master again. But soon enough, he reverted back to resting on the pad, and started croaking lazily. "Ribbit ribbit."
"Yeah, I know. It's pretty late, huh?"
Nisalia dragged herself to the middle of the room and flung herself on the oak bed. The warmness of the blanket and fabric felt amazing after being out for hours in the chilly night.
Before she completely lost herself to sleep, the Peophin mumbled to her petpet. "Oh, and happy Valentines Day, Morton."
The mortog closed his eyes. "Ribbit."