Unwithering Blossom
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Dried leaves crunched under their footsteps. Sunlight filtered in through the looming trees overhead. For the most part, the walk shared between Head Bloom Agno and Bloom Zinni had been quiet, save for the little comments they made passing by places. Zinni still had no idea as to why Agno desired to trek so far away from the Atrium, but they were sure it was important.

Agno finally paused as they reached a small clearing. It overlooked the Urban Overgrowth, bustling with life even as the sun began to set, with the Ivlania going on with their days.

"Zinni, I'm sure you're curious as to why I asked you to walk with me today."

Zinni nodded.

"Well, yeah! I mean, I can only guess it's super duper important from the fact you wanted us alone and all!"

Turning away from the clearing, Agno gave Zinni a serious look.

"I've been… realising things, ever since that human was accepted into our lands by the source."

Agno began to pace, slowly circling around Zinni.

"I've spent nights mulling over it: how did the source decide so quickly that the human was good? It has much of the land to oversee, surely they could not spend all day keeping an eye on them!"

Zinni hummed in agreement.

"That makes sense! Where are you going with this?"

Agno paused vir steps, looking away from Zinni.

"It would need some physical presence with them at all times, one who could be around them while it tended to the rest of its land."

Agno glanced back at Zinni, whose smile was unwavering.



"Zinni… just what are you?"



Silence fell between the both of them, as the wind whistled through their petals. For a moment, it felt as if the forest was trying to hide away— as if saddened its secret was found so swiftly. After a moment, the sudden chill disappeared, and was replaced with a welcoming warmth.

"Ah, and here I thought I would have more time before you worked it out… I knew you were a perfect pick for the next Head Bloom, Agno."

As more voices began to overlap their own, the edges of Zinni's petals began to tessellate, changing the natural formation into that of geometrical perfection, slowly reforming the flowered head of Zinnia into a mesh of nature and the Source itself.

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Agno's heart hammered in vir chest. To think ve knew the source so closely already. It was…

"It's quite funny to see you so surprised despite being correct. The emotions of Ivlania and humans alike always intrigued me."

Agno took a deep breath in an attempt to calm down.

"If- if you have a physical form, then… why?"

The source tilted its head.

"Why what?"

"Everything! The Bouquet, the High Bloom, the trials— if you have a physical form, why hide yourself away?"

The Source thought.



It walked.




It pondered.



"I will admit… physical forms are relatively new to me."

It looked to Agno with sadness.

"Despite the Ivlania being my dearest creations… I still had ill-trust within me. My vitriol for humans still remained, and lingered when creating you."

The source walked over to the clearing overseeing the Urban Overgrowth, ushering for Agno to stand with it. With the sun beginning to dip past the mountains, activity had quietened down, a more calm atmosphere resonating within the city area now.

"After many had come and passed within the atrium, I realised something… how can I come to trust my creation if I had no way of properly being there with them?"

For a moment, the source re-takes the form of Zinni's flower.

"I decided I would take on the form I made, and truly witness the fruits of my labour… secretly, of course!"

"Ah, so you implanted the idea that you had always existed in the minds of all of us, is that right?"

The source laughed with multilayered mirth.

"See? I knew you were the right pick for Head Bloom, you're so clever!"

The petals fell away once more on the source's head.

"If I was going to be covert about it, no one could know what I was doing! I think Zinni is the…"

It paused to count with a hand.

"Right, my third form so far!"

Agno looked shocked.

"What were you before Zinni?"

"Ah, let's see… I was a Flowering by the name of Syriaca first… then was the Blossom called Thuri."

In the depths of Agno's memories, ve recalled the one named Thuri, although they had only met once when ve was a Budding. Agno fondly remembered them to be rather eccentric, despite the short time of knowing them. Ve laughed softly.

"I think I remember Thuri… what kind of phase was that, exactly?

The source shrugged.

"Experimentation, let's call it."

Agno couldn't help but let out a snort.

It was pleasant, being able to converse with the source in such a relaxed manner. Agno never thought the day would come where ve would no longer fear it, but here they both were, talking as if friends.

"So… how often do you change forms?"

"Oh, I change every time a new Head Bloom is needed."

Something about that comment made Agno nervous.

"So… I have an indicator of when I'm to fall back into the cycle?"

"I suppose you do, yes. It's not as if Ivlania live forever, you know?"

"But you will. You have to live through the birth and death of your creations… does that not make you feel upset?"

The source shook its head.

"Just because their physical form wilts away… does not mean they leave me."

The source placed a hand on Agno's shoulder.

"I oversee the cycle of rebirth for all who pass. I get to talk to their souls before they are reborn. Of course, they forget me once they move on, but I am never truly alone!"

The source knelt on the ground, and took hold a blooming gypsophila in it's hand. It smiles.

"I have nothing to be sad for. I have all I love and treasure, no matter where I am, or what form I take…"

The source let go of the flower once more, staring at the dusky sky.

"You know, you're the first to actually learn of this. I do suppose I made it easy to figure out by joining the Bouquet, heh."

Agno chuckled.

"Indeed…"

They sat in silence for a moment. For the first time since becoming Head Bloom, Agno felt at peace with vir position.

"I believe night draws close. Egoni will be worried about where I am, and will think I've gotten into some trouble, and I definitely do not wish to stress out my partner."

Once more, the multilayered laughter of the source echoed through the forest.

"Of course, of course! Can't have that now!"

The source stretched, allowing their head to shift back to the cover of Zinni.

"You head on home, I have my ways of getting back."

--✿--

"Agno! For source's sake, where have you been?"

"Well, with the source. Where else?"

"The source? But you went with Zinni…"

"Wait. You were-"

"Right? And here you were doubting my theory!"

*sigh* "Agno, your luck continues to astound me. How did it react?"

"Honestly? I think it was happy it finally had someone notice it. They seemed to have much on their mind that their true form did not allow to convey."

"… well then, we can discuss it when its not at the dead of night. Come on, my love, we both really need sleep now."

"Aww, alright then."



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