AMBER FERN'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING
Lucky Lightning groans in her sleep on the guest room bed, shifting this way and that. Much troubling sleep was had during the night, but she's okay.
Lucky Lightning flips onto the floor, though tumbles as she misjudged the distance: "Oof! Okay, not my bed." She blinks and looks up: "Since when was... that... so far up?" From Lucky's rather low perspective, the door handle seems to be roughly seven miles up.
Narrator: After some cursing in moderately high-pitched voice, she manages to open the door.
Lucky Lightning makes her way downstairs: "Amber? Are you here?"
Amber Fern 's ear twitches at the voice calling her name. She groans a bit from the sofa she collapsed onto on the way to the bedroom. She learned long ago not to fall asleep at your alchemy table. She sniffles, finding odd that her nose is a little runny as she lifts a hoof to scratch an itchy mane. "Bwha? Um... yeah. 'm here."
Lucky Lightning walks to the room: "Good. 'Cause things fell odd. I am... well, I feel small. Can Poison Joke do that?" Her voice is definitely higher-pitched than usual.
Amber Fern groans a bit wearily as she rises up from the couch, still scratching at her itchy mane with a hoof. "Yeah... yeah it can... it can do a lot it can... wait... right. Poison Joke. Lucky?"
Lucky Lightning walks into the view of Amber. She is, for all intents and purposes, a tiny gray filly with pink-and-blonde mane and currently rather tired and indignant expression: "Whatever this is, I don't like being this small."
Amber Fern shifts her head to look at Lucky, tilting her head. As she does so, an ugly clump of yellow flowers sticks out from her typically yellow mane, it currently has a much more decidedly green and leafy tone to it. "Wait... you're... not small. You're..." She blinks. "A filly?"
Lucky Lightning tilts her head: "Huh? No I'm not. Am I?" She pauses, feeling of dread coming to her: "-d-do you have a mirror nearby?"
Amber Fern points towards the bathroom to the side of the stairs. "You're definitely youn-" She sneezes, sniffling again. "Gah... excuse me."
Lucky Lightning blinks as she starts going towards the bathroom: "You okay?" She doesn't stop though, her curiosity getting the better of her.
Amber Fern sniffles, slowly following after, "I'm fine, just... something irritating my nose. And my mane itches." She keeps scratching, but doesn't seem to be making any headway on that damn itch.
Narrator: There is, predictably, a very high-pitched scream followed by a string of curses verbose enough to make a Manehattan dockworker blush.
Amber Fern cringes at the scream, following after Lucky into the bathroom. She stares a moment as she listens. "That... is so weird to hear that kind of language coming from a pony looking that age... gah, this... okay, so that's what poison joke did to you, what did it do to me?" She looks in the mirror.
Lucky Lightning keeps gasping after her tirade for a moment, then finally looks up from her vantage point (she had to sit on the toilet to even see the mirror properly) and tilts her head: "It... it looks like your mane... has grown. But like, weeds or something."
Amber Fern 's mane has been replaced by a varied tangle of leaves, stems, and flowers, growing out at odd angles and gross clumps. Her face falls. "Crabgrass, dandelions, purslane, spurge, burclover... not even anything useful..." She pauses to sneeze again. "And ragweed. Of course."
Lucky Lightning winces a bit: "Let me guess. You're allergic or something?"
Amber Fern sniffles and gives a nod. "Yeah..." She leans forward to hit her head on the mirror a moment. "Stupid plant with its stupid sense of humor."
Lucky Lightning sighs, looking down: "Well, this is just great."
Amber Fern sneezes, then nods again. "Well, at least it's only temporary. Poison Joke cure is easy to make. There's another alchemist just outside of town who keeps ready supplies available too. All it takes is a nice hot bath with the cure mixed in, and we'll be back to normal."
Lucky Lightning shakes her head, frowning: "Thank -fucking- goodness."
Amber Fern cringes. "The main problem is... she lives in the Everfree. But she comes into town regularly enough. I can mix some myself but that might take about as long, especially since I need to focus on the cure for Radar."
Lucky Lightning hops down from the toilet seat, groaning: "Greaaat. So... dare I ask for an estimate, and if us staying on that patch made things more complicated?"
Amber Fern sighs. "Depending on how long the cure for Radar takes... a week? Maybe two? Max? If I haven't had the time by then, Zecora should arrive in town. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not risk another trip in there."
Lucky Lightning lifts a hoof to her head and lets loose another set of curses under her breath. After that, she breathes deep: "Okay, okay. I'm fine. Really. Just gonna spend a week as a filly. Obviously everything is fine..."
Amber Fern sticks out her tongue, examining the blue dots across, then sighs. "As for the second question, I don't know. This is new to me as well. I can't tell if you if this is a more or less severe case. So far, it just seems normal..." She plucks a small vine out of her mane, cringing in pain as she yanks the root. "For... certain definitions of normal."
Lucky Lightning raises an eyebrow, looking up at Amber: "You have a really funny definition of 'normal' of any kind."
Amber Fern sighs. "I've had a very abnormal life. I will happily spend a week pulling mullein flowers out of my mane over some days in my past."
Lucky Lightning groans deeply: "Figures. I don't only change into a mare, now a filly too?!"
Amber Fern sneezes in surprise, then blinks to look at Lucky. "Wait, 'too'? A mare?"
Lucky Lightning sighs as she walks to the couch, flopping down: "I suppose I might as well tell you. We're in this together and all." She doesn't look happy about her slip, though.
Amber Fern nods. "Come on. Let's talk over breakfast." She steps out of the bathroom and back towards the kitchen to cut some fruit and bread (doing her best to not sneeze on any of the food).
Lucky Lightning sighs, hopping down from the couch to follow Amber: "...well, food might make it better at least."
Amber Fern settles down a tray of sliced apples, bread, and butter on the table and sets about making some oatmeal. "It... usually does. For me at, least. I have simple tastes though, hope you don't mind."
Lucky Lightning climbs to a chair with some effort: "Unngh! I already severely dislike this!" She takes a slice of apple, munching on it before sighing again: "...we got into this mess, but this... is not the first time I have... woken up as something different." She looks away, gathering her thoughts.
Amber Fern frowns, getting a paper towel to hold in front of her nose as she cooks. Her mane is making it a bit tricky to balance, cook, and not get pollen or leaves into the food, muttering to herself. "...I can agree with you there... this is going to make my lab work such a hassle."
Lucky Lightning looks about the effort the cooking takes: "I would help, but... well, I could barely get to this chair, darnit." She sighs, lifting a hoof to the bridge of her nose: "Anyway... roughly... four months ago..." She whimpers a bit: "...I was a stallion."
Amber Fern stops to glance back and nods. "So... that was the 'other' change then." She pauses, not entirely sure what to say beyond. "I... see."
Lucky Lightning rests her head on the table, looking into the distance: "It seems... so surreal. Still no idea what caused it - though I heavily suspect my asshole grandpa, who also disowned me - still a mare with no cure in sight." She pauses, looking at her hooves: "...well, I suppose not a mare anymore." She groans.
Amber Fern frowns, considering. "No clue of the cause... so, that means potions or magical flora could still be a cause?"
Lucky Lightning sighs: "Possibly. I don't have the resources to look it up, when I can barely make ends meet without travel or research..."
Amber Fern chuckles. "Lucky... do you know who does have resources to look up poisons, potions, and magical plantlife?"
Lucky Lightning tilts her head, a bit confused: "...wait. You?"
Amber Fern nods. "I am an official member of the Equestrian Botanical Society. It might not get you anything... but once we've sorted out Radar, and the Poison Joke, I would be more than happy to look into it."
Lucky Lightning smiles despite herself: "Y-you w-would?"
Amber Fern nods as she pours out two bowls of oatmeal and brings them to the table. "It's the least I can do after getting you into... well, this." She points down at Lucky.
Lucky Lightning smiles: "W-well... yeah, I suppose there is that." She frowns: "I'm pretty sure that I should be angry at you for dragging me to that, but I'm pretty sure I volunteered. I should be downright pissed, but all I feel is a want to fix this all..."
Amber Fern chuckles. "I couldn't blame you much if you were mad at me, really." She takes an apple slice and chews is thoughtfully. "Neither of us should have gone into the forest yesterday."
Lucky Lightning fumbles her much-tinier hooves on a spoon: "You can say that again."
Amber Fern sighs. "But... I wanted to help my friend. I've been brought low before, and I wouldn't be where I am now if somepony hadn't stepped in to help me. Who am I to not do the same for somepony in need?"
Lucky Lightning tilts her head as she munches on a spoonful of oatmeal: "Mm. There is a story behind that, ain't there?"
Amber Fern laughs, "Several." She considers a moment, then shrugs. "Well, you confided in me... the least I can do is confide in you." She lifts a hoof to her mane, frowning at the snarled mess her hoof encounters. She plucks at it a few moments, then manages to pull back a mess of weeds to show Lucky the remains of her horn, long cut off. "This was easier to show when I had a real mane."
Lucky Lightning looks at the horn and winces a bit: "...yow."
Radar flies in through the kitchen window. She's carrying a small pouch in her feet, which slows her down a bit, but not too much. She lands on the counter and announces her presence with a happy chirpy skree.
Lucky Lightning blinks, looking up at Radar: "...oh. Right. The other problem."
Amber Fern lowers her hoof as some of the weeds she picked at grow back. She blinks and waves to Radar, standing to walk over to her. "Speaking of our friend. Good morning, Radar."
Lucky Lightning waves at Radar with a sheepish grin.
Radar flies up and nuzzles Amber, then blinks at she gets a good look at her mane. She gives a tiny little sneeze as she flies over Amber's head, giving it a good look. She notices the telltale blue spots of Joke exposure and skrees again, upset that Amber suffered on her behalf.
Amber Fern rolls her eyes. "And Radar is allergic too. Wonderful." She turns and nods towards Lucky. "If you're concerned for us, don't be. We both got exposed. I knew the risk, but Lucky suffered as well. The important thing is getting you fixed."
Lucky Lightning nods at Radar, but her smile isn't really in it.
Radar lands on the table and looks at Lucky. She blinks and skrees softly, feeling quite bad for both. She flies over to her little pouch and extracts a cheap bracelet from it with a set of alphabet block beads on it. She holds the bracelet awkwardly, but quickly manages to spell out "I M SORRY" on it.
Lucky Lightning watches Radar, then shakes her head: "No, it's just... well. I-I a-am here, right? Still alive, at least?" She sighs, looking down: "S-should at l-least m-make the most of it." She looks like she's on the verge of tears all of a sudden.
Radar flutters over to Lucky and pats her shoulder with a wing comfortingly.
Amber Fern sneezes. "A lot of big Canterlot celebrities would probably pay a fortune to have a second childhood. I bet..." she trails off as she sees Lucky tearing up, "I bet it's still not very fun, though. ...Sorry, Lucky."
Lucky Lightning looks up at Radar, sniffing: "N-no. I'm f-fine. Just f-fine..." She collapses, leaning on the table, crying her eyes out: "I'm so not fucking FINE!"
Radar flies over to Amber, a sad look on her little face. She has no idea what to do here. She chirps softly and just settles herself on Amber's shoulder.
Amber Fern glances at Radar, but walks over to Lucky's side, standing next to the chair and placing a hoof on Lucky's back. "I... no. I imagine not. I'm so sorry."
Lucky Lightning cries against the table for a while, letting a lot of pent up emotions go at once.
Amber Fern sits down next to Lucky's chair, staying at her side while she lets it all out.
Lucky Lightning sighs as her crying abates. With barely the energy to even ask the question, she looks at Amber: "W-what do I do now?"
Radar fetches her bracelet from her bag again and flies in front of Lucky. She spells out three short words. WE GO ON.
Amber Fern takes a moment to read the bracelet, then nods, keeping a hoof against Lucky in support. "I need to work on Radar's cure. And with a mane full of weed pollen, there is absolutely no way I'm setting hoof in my greenhouse." She snorts at the thought of this many weeds anywhere near her growing boxes, then her face grows soft. "You saw my horn. I know how hard it can be. Just
Amber Fern remember, this, at least, is only temporary."
Lucky Lightning frowns, sighs and slowly nods: "I... I suppose. I will just... do something. I can not exactly go back to the theater like this."
Amber Fern: Probably not best for a pony looking so young hang around in the bar, so best you keep using the guest room for now.
Lucky Lightning looks down: "...I suppose I can at least work on painting the curtains or something. Catch up on my reading." She lifts her hooves to her head: "...is it bad if right now I just want to drink until I am no longer conscious?"
Radar heads off to look around the kitchen, knowing that she won't be able to do much of anything to help Lucky right now.
Amber Fern frowns. "It... probably is very bad. I would avoid alchohol for now. I know that is absolutely not the answer you want to hear."
Lucky Lightning sighs, leaning her head on the table: "I know..."
Amber Fern pats Lucky on the back. "It'll be over before you know it." She turns to scan the room for Radar. "But before we can even think about that... I need to work on the Metamorfungus cure."
Lucky Lightning nods, hopping down from her chair: "I think... I want to rest. Sleep on this. M'not feeling hungry anymore." She sniffs and starts walking towards the stairs.
Radar flies back over to Amber with a long strand of kitchen twine on her feet. She lands on Amber's neck and does her best to starts wedging the twine between some of the greenery in the mane. Once the end is firmly in place, she starts flying around Amber's head, looping the twine around the largest chunk of annoying weeds that she can reasonably isolate.
Radar lands back on Amber's neck when the end of the twine gets short. She starts tugging at the ends of the twine, pulling the weeds into a tighter bundle that stands more out of Amber's way. It's not pretty, but it's practical, given the circumstances. Once the twine is tight, Radar starts trying to tie it off, which is a slow and laborious process for a little bat.
Amber Fern gives a should of surprise as Radar starts tying her mane back, but once she figures out what the bat is doing, she relaxes, still sniffling a bit. "Well... that'll keep it out of my eyes, at least. Thanks, Radar."
Lucky Lightning sighs as she reaches the bottom of the stairs, realizing just how big the steps are to her now. Cursing silently... she turns around and flops on the couch, not feeling like doing the climb right now.
Radar gets at least a loose knot into place, which should hold. She hugs Amber's neck firmly.
Amber Fern glances at Lucky as she throws herself at the couch and frowns, but isn't sure there's anything else she can say at this point. She knew what she was getting into, but she can't help but feel bad for Lucky getting dragged in as well. She lowers her muzzle carefully return Radar's sentiment. "Let's get to work. I'll cook up dinner tonight too, Lucky. Just knock on the study door if
Amber Fern you need anything."
Lucky Lightning sighs: "I will." She turns, hugging a throw pillow that feels so huge now, softly weeping and finding herself asleep soon enough.
Radar chirps gently in Lucky's direction. She fetches her bracelet and pouch, then settles on Amber's back, anxious to get to work on the cure again.