Written by: Psychicscubadiver
Edited by: Silentcarto
Disclaimer: I don’t own The Dresden Files or My Little Pony that is Jim Butcher and Hasbro, respectively. This is a fanfiction only. Comments are appreciated, trolling is not. This takes place before season two in MLP and between books five and six in the Dresden Files.
Twilight tossed and turned in her sleep, her mind full of dreams, images that wouldn’t fade. The shock of what she had seen had knocked her unconscious, but it was her tired body that kept her there, forcing her to rest. Her mind, though, was anything but peaceful, and what she had seen in that strange place replayed endlessly.
It began in an enormous city of stone and glass. The surrounding details were hazy, as though a spotlight shone only on the creature in front of her. He appeared the same, except he was missing the black coat from before. His bare torso, the same peach color as his hands, was covered in wounds. Some were white lines, old and scarred, and some were so fresh they were still wrapped in red-stained bandages. As she watched, he put on a suit of medieval armor in a spartan, lonely room. He rose, sword in hand, and went out into the strange city. He walked lightly, a smile on his face, but Twilight could see that he had a heavy purpose in mind. Most of the city’s people ignored him, some jeered at him. He ignored both. They arrived at the edge of the city just as the sun was setting. In the soft glow of dusk he stood on an open plain between the city and a wild, tangled forest. As the light dimmed, monsters began to appear, slinking out of the growing shadows until a multitude of them waited, arrayed against him. They were horrifying, all of them, each in its own unique way. Twilight had never seen anything like them, and she recoiled in fear from their drooling jaws and blood-stained claws. As one, the creatures of night bellowed their challenge to the lone warrior. He was unbowed by the wave of sound and held his ground. As the lingering echoes died away he responded.
He laughed at them, loud and cocky, and made a one-fingered gesture Twilight didn’t fully understand. The monsters did, and they screamed in fury even as they charged him. What followed was the most violent and frightening thing she had ever seen. All of the horrors were quick and vicious, but the man was quicker still and his swordplay was that of a true master. Perhaps he lacked the finesse of a more experienced knight, but as he bisected one unlucky foe, Twilight realized he had more than enough power to make up for it. He fought against insane odds, never giving ground to the darkness. The black blood of the creatures flew as his sword cut corrupted flesh, but crimson blood flowed steadily from the many wounds he received in return. Much later, the full moon rose over a silent battlefield, the beasts were dead or had fled, and the warrior stood alone, breathing raggedly. He was so covered in the black blood of his enemies that he resembled them more than any of his city’s people. Then Twilight noticed something she hadn’t before; his eyes were mismatched. One was a brown so bright it bordered on gold. That eye was full of honor and strength, and tired as he was, it still blazed like a torch. The other, though, was a brown so dark that it appeared black. It didn’t blaze, it smoldered. Rage, pain, cruelty and an unquenchable lust for power lived in that eye. She realized that there stood the real battle, within the heart of the warrior. Every time he fought, he walked the knife’s edge between using his power and letting it use him, but at the same time, he couldn’t stop fighting for his city. Twilight felt an intense surge of emotion, equal parts pity and fear, even as the image faded to black.
“No!” Twilight screamed as she woke up, covered in sweat. There was a terrifying instant of disorientation before she recognized the comfortable, familiar interior of Fluttershy’s cottage. It hadn’t been just a dream, she was certain of that. Celestia help her, she had to warn the residents of Ponyville quickly. The creature, the… person… she had met was dangerous. I must alert Princess Celestia at once, She thought, she needs to know about him. If I can’t think of a way to track him down, her guards will have to search the forest. She paused for a moment. She had promised to help Fluttershy. She hated to let her friend down, but a crisis obviously took precedence. She would warn Fluttershy, breaking the news as gently as possible, then set out immediately for Ponyville.
“Fluttershy?” Twilight asked as she came downstairs, “Where are you?”
“Over here. It’s good to see you up and about, Twilight.” The little pegasus was in the kitchen fixing a huge fruit salad, one big enough for half a dozen ponies, and was keeping an eye on her oven too. “I was afraid you would miss lunch.”
“I’m fine. I just didn’t get enough sleep last night.” Twilight said her tone serious. “But I’ve got something much more important than lunch to discuss with you. It’s about why I was unconscious.”
“Okay, just a minute then.” She turned to the window. “Lunchtime.” Fluttershy called softly.
“Fluttershy, didn’t you hear me?!” Twilight demanded. “Lunch can wait; we’ve got a full blown emergency on our hooves!”
Fluttershy flinched. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t r-realize,” she mumbled as she stared at her hooves.
Twilight sighed. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. I didn’t mean to yell at you, but this could be a matter of life or death!”
“Oh, my.” Fluttershy glanced toward the door and her face lit up with a hopeful smile. “Well, maybe Mr. Dresden can help with your problem.” Twilight turned to look, then froze in shock, her heart stopping for one terrifying moment. The biped was barging into Fluttershy’s home! He was breathing heavily and carried an axe in one of his hands. The blade was so sharp it gleamed in the soft sunshine of Fluttershy’s cottage.
“Fluttershy, run!” Twilight screamed, putting herself between Fluttershy and the towering threat. “I’ll hold him off, you warn Ponyville!” The reaction she got was unexpected to say the least. Both Fluttershy and the warrior just stared at her. What in Celestia’s mane is going on?! Twilight thought.
He was the first to break the awkward silence. “I was just about finished chopping all of that wood you wanted, Miss Fluttershy,” he said as he hung the axe in its place on the wall. Twilight slowly let the spells she’d been preparing fade away, staring speechless at the giant. Well, of course he can talk. I’m not even surprised anymore.
“Oh, thank you so much, Mr. Dresden. Since you said you couldn’t eat raw grains, I made us a fruit salad and baked potatoes for lunch.” Fluttershy cleared her throat and gestured to Twilight. “This is my friend, Twilight Sparkle. Twilight, this is Mr. Dresden. He carried you here while you were unconscious. I know he looks scary, but he’s just from somewhere else where they only have humans like him.” Twilight eyed the human, who had the good grace to look guilty.
Huh, Twilight thought, so he knows that it’s his fault I passed out. Aloud she said, “It’s nice to meet you Mr. Dresden. But if you don’t mind me asking, what are your intentions in Equestria?”
“Well, right now I’m pretty intent on eating lunch,” he said with a careless smile. “Beyond that, I just want to go home. I’m only here by accident.”
“Well,” Fluttershy spoke up, “Wash your hooves – I mean, hands – and we can discuss that and Twilight’s problem after lunch.” Dresden walked over to the sink and began washing as Fluttershy pulled the potatoes out of the oven. The food smelled delicious, and they dug in without anything more than some small talk. Dresden ate most of the fruit salad and three of the potatoes, but given his size, Twilight wasn’t surprised. When lunch was done, he leaned back and gave his stomach a contented pat.
“Thank you Miss Fluttershy, that was wonderful. Do you happen to have any beer?” he asked hopefully.
“Um, I’m afraid not. What’s beer?” Fluttershy replied.
The look on his face was so disheartened it was almost funny. Twilight stifled a giggle; this was the time for business. “Yes, Fluttershy. Thank you for lunch. Now, would you mind answering some more questions, Mr. Dresden?”
“Sure thing, pumpkin.”
Twilight narrowed her eyes, but he just grinned in reply. She pushed it aside, determined not to give him the satisfaction. “Well, I’d like to know who you are, where you came from, why you’re here, and most importantly…” What did you do to me?! is what she wanted to shout, but she satisfied herself with an icy glare instead. “What happened when we met?”
Dresden winced, regaining his guilty expression. He dropped the flippant tone and turned serious. “I’m Harry Dresden, a wizard from the city of Chicago.”
“A wizard? I’m not familiar with the term.” Twilight interjected.
“You know, a practitioner of magic. I noticed that you’re one, too.”
“Oh,” she said, wondering if he’d sensed the spells she’d prepared during the earlier confrontation. “Go on, please.”
“My world is called Earth, and humans, omnivorous primates like myself, are the dominant species. We have horses there too, but they’re bigger than you and not sentient.”
“Omnivorous? You eat meat, then?” Twilight asked, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
“Yeah, typically that’s the main dish in a human meal. And the tastiest.” He grinned, baring his teeth.
“Y-you don’t eat ponies do you?” Fluttershy squeaked. Twilight hadn’t thought of that, but it was a good question. She watched Dresden’s reaction. He shook his head, the grin fading.
“No, we don’t. In fact, a lot of people would be as horrified as you at the idea of eating horse. Why I’m here though…” He paused to think. “Have you ever heard of the Nevernever?” Both Fluttershy and Twilight shook their heads. He wasn’t surprised. “Well, okay. The Nevernever has a lot of names, Faerie land, the Æther, the Dream Time, and many others, but essentially it’s a realm of pure magic, one that connects to everywhere. You can use magic to get into the Nevernever and exit it wherever you want. Wizards use it to travel long distances. I was on the path to another city when I had to run from some of the local wildlife. You see, a lot of monsters live in the Nevernever, so it’s not a nice place. Anyway, I couldn’t get away from them so I had to open a hole into whatever world was nearest; it just happened to be here. I’d like to go home, but I need directions back to the part of the Nevernever that connects to Earth. Preferably a route that doesn’t cross the vearens’ territory again.”
Twilight thought about it. It sounded fantastic, no doubt about that. But she had also seen him fall out of hole in thin air and glimpsed another world on the opposite side. He seemed to be telling the truth, and if he was, this needed to be dealt with quickly and quietly. There was no sense causing a panic among innocent ponies. I’ll tell Celestia and she’ll know what to do. Twilight decided. Until then, Dresden will simply have to stay here in Ponyville. It’s dangerous, but it’s better than letting him wander around. I wonder if Rarity could pull together a disguise for him.
“Okay,” Twilight said. “I believe you, and I’ll ask Princess Celestia to help us find you a way home.” He relaxed and started to say something, but she cut him off. “But you still haven’t told me what happened when I saw you.”
“Oh. Right.” He looked apologetic. “That was something that happens when a wizard looks someone in the eyes for more than a moment. It’s called the Soulgaze. Basically, we each got to see the other’s soul. The core of their being. I didn’t mean for it to happen. On Earth, horses—” Twilight felt her expression harden, and Dresden corrected himself. “—err, ponies, don’t have souls. No soul, no Soulgaze.”
Twilight and Fluttershy stared at him, one in confusion, and the other in shock verging on horror. Fluttershy spoke first. “What does a soul look like?”
“Well, you don’t literally see a soul. You see their most fundamental nature explained in metaphor. I typically see them as places, but not always.” He fidgeted nervously, “Sorry about whatever you saw. I’m told my soul isn’t a nice place to visit.”
Twilight shook her head. That, more than anything else in this deranged situation, was beyond her. She needed time to process all of it. But she had work to do. Her resolve strengthened, and she lifted her chin. “I’m going into town,” she announced. “I need Spike to send a letter to Princess Celestia, and I need to see if Rarity can make a disguise for Mr. Dresden.” She turned to him. “Stay here and try not to attract any attention. Okay?” He nodded. “I’ll be back soon, Fluttershy. I promise.” With that, she hurried out of the house, hoping she could resolve this quickly.
I sighed as Twilight left. She wasn’t just scared of me; fear was a reaction I was used to. She was honestly angry over what she had seen. If the rest of Equestria was as picture-perfect as the small piece I’d seen, then I wasn’t surprised. Despite her protective reaction when I entered the house, I doubted she had ever seen true violence, much less performed it.
“Are you okay, Mr. Dresden?” Fluttershy asked, watching me with those big empathetic eyes. “I’m sure Twilight isn’t really angry. She’s just worried and a little stressed.”
“No, she’s upset, but she’s got every right to be. I’m just going to have to be more careful.”
The pegasus looked little she wanted to argue the point, but sighed and seemed to accept it. “Umm … so what did it look like?” Fluttershy peered at me curiously.
“What, her soul?” Fluttershy nodded. “I really shouldn’t tell you without Twilight’s permission. I mean, I already violated her privacy by accident, and that was bad enough.”
She looked down at her hooves in disappointment, but she mumbled an okay. Well, maybe I could tell her one thing. “I’ll say this, though: I saw pictures of you and the rest of her friends everywhere. It was obvious that she loves all of you very much.” It was incredibly heartwarming to see the smile grow on her face and a small blush spread on her cheeks. Confound these ponies, they drive me to feel warm and fuzzy.
“Awwww,” a bubbly voice said, “That’s so sweet of her! It’s nice to know she cares.”
I spun around. Standing right behind me was the bright pink little pony I’d seen in the library. How the hell did she sneak up on me? I wondered. Apparently Fluttershy was caught unaware as well.
“Pinkie Pie!” she said, “When did you get here?”
“Oh, I’ve been here since lunch ended. I was gonna pop out and surprise you guys, but I was so interested in what you were saying I just had to listen.” She beamed proudly as she looked at our unbelieving faces. “So anyway, I’ve a question if you don’t mind, Mr. Dresden.”
I tried not to roll my eyes. Why did everyone have to ask that first? I nodded assent as I took a sip of apple juice. I still couldn’t believe there was no beer. No steaks, I understood. They were herbivores. But come on – they ate barley and wheat, how could they not have beer?! This wasn’t a paradise after all.
“I wanted to know, since, you know, we’re calling you ‘mister’, are you a stallion?”
I spat out the juice I’d been drinking and started coughing, trying to laugh and breathe at the same time. After a few seconds my throat was clear, and I reassured the worried ponies I was fine. “Remind me not to drink next time you ask a question, Miss Pie. But yes, I am male, if that’s what you’re asking.” I chuckled a few more times.
“I thought so,” she grinned triumphantly, but it faded into a confused frown. “Then what’s so funny?”
“Well, you’re the first person who’s had to ask my gender, and besides that, asking a man if he’s a stallion means… something completely different on Earth. Something not discussed in polite company.”
“Oh, I got it.” She giggled, making her fluffy pink mane bounce uncontrollably.
“I don’t,” Fluttershy pouted. “What do you mean, Mr. Dresden?”My mind boggled. I didn’t want to discuss that topic with any pony at all, much less the shyest, most easily embarrassed one. I felt my face heating up as I tried to think of a way out of this one. Luckily the pink little pony came to my rescue.
“Oh, Fluttershy, don’t worry about it. Your Auntie Pinkie Pie will tell you all ‘bout it when you’re older,” she said, patting the yellow pegasus on the head.
“You know, I’m a year older than you,” Fluttershy huffed.
I managed to keep a straight face, though I’m not certain how, and wondered what to do next. If the chores were done, and we had to wait here until Twilight came back, it was going to get pretty boring. An idea popped into my head. Why not? I thought, checking my coat to see what magic supplies I had on hand. After all, I should test my spells to make sure they still work here. I cleared my throat, interrupting Pinkie’s laughing and Fluttershy’s glaring. “Hey,” I said with a showman’s smile. “How about I show you ponies some magic tricks?”