• Published 6th Apr 2016
  • 2,819 Views, 126 Comments

Return to Gravity Falls: The Equestria Chronicles - Arkansandragon

SPOILERS for Gravity Falls' season 2 & finale + MLP:FiM season 6: "The Crystalling". One year after Weirdmageddon, the Pines reunite in Gravity Falls for another summer of adventure. A fall into Equestria as ponies wasn't what they had in mind.

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Chapter 8: Nightmares and Dreamwalking (Part 2)

Luna decided to try the more ornately carved door this time. The simpler door had been the nephew’s, so this one must belong to the brother. From the stallion’s remark about his nephew, it was an easy guess that the colt was scholarly. Had he been following in the brother’s footsteps? If so, the similar designs of their dream doors would make sense.

The scene she entered now had the look of a small, private library, lit only by the dim glow of lanterns. The walls were lined with bookshelves that vanished into the shadows, the floor was carpeted, and a table stood before her, piled high with books and scrolls. But she could see that all was not well with this dream. Mist curled and drifted in the darkness, and everything had blurred, unfocused edges. Luna quickly recognized the signs. This dreamer was suffering from a head wound, most likely a concussion.

The soft thump of something hitting the carpet caught her attention. Looking closer into the shadows, she found the human stallion she had come for. Although she could only see him from the back, he appeared to be dressed in the clothes Cipher had worn when impersonating him. The old stallion seemed to have not noticed her yet, and was intent on searching the bookshelf in front of him. He pulled book after book from the shelf, tucking some under one forelimb and throwing others to the floor in frustration. Aside from those sounds, the place was completely silent.

The alicorn scuffed a hoof against the carpet, debating how she should approach.

The dreamer paused in his search at the subtle noise. Although his ears were nowhere near flexible enough to show emotion as a pony’s were, she could see in the rest of his body that he was on edge, alert for anything. Luna froze as well, waiting. After a few tense seconds, he seemed to relax again, and plucked another book from the shelf.

She was just softly letting out the breath she had been holding--when that book came flying straight towards her head.

On reflex, she caught it with her magic. A sigh of relief escaped her that she had avoided being struck, only to realize her mistake too late.

“I see that no one warned you.”

Feeling a suddenly sense of dread, Luna slowly lowered the book, and found herself staring straight down the barrel of a loaded crossbow.

“I don’t take kindly to dreamwalkers,” said the human, his voice cold, and his aim steady.

Luna kept perfectly still, her mind racing. The stallion had moved to point blank range, and was aiming the bow at her center of mass. They both knew that she would not be able to grab the bolt with magic if he fired, nor would she be able to jerk the bow off target in time, and a shot this close would undoubtedly pierce her collar, killing her.

“Cancel that spell, Your Highness,” he said, looking her over. “No tricks. Fold those wings up.”

But the alicorn had something else in mind. Her horn flared brighter for an instant, blinding them both, and she heard the impact of a bolt hitting the book she had moved to block it--before teleporting to the other side of the room. Knowing she only had a few moments before he fired at her again, she teleported the crossbow out of his hands. It reappeared beside her even as he rolled for cover behind a nearby bookshelf.

Hoping that he would come peacefully now that she had his weapon, she called, “Do you treat all guests this way? Or am I an exception?”

A second bolt flew her way as he leaned out to fire another crossbow around the shelf, and as she caught the bolt with her magic, she saw the ghost of a smile cross his face at her sarcasm, “Call it a precautionary measure. This wouldn’t harm you in my dimension’s mindscape, but here? Judging from your reaction, I’d say it’s somewhat more lethal...”

When he broke cover to shoot at her again, it was not a crossbow he held. She teleported again as a blue energy blast burned the floor where she had been standing. Hovering above him, she had another view of his weapon. The closest she could describe it was as a tiny cannon with the trigger similar to a crossbow’s, and with the barrel shaped like an upside down triangle. The grey metal of the weapon was stained and dull, there was some sort of dial on the side of the barrel, and the way he held it indicated a strong familiarity with its use.

He looked up at the sound of her wingbeats, and she fired a magic beam from her horn to chase him out from underneath her before he could shoot again. Perhaps if she could just keep him moving, she could tire him before this fight got out of hoof, and one of them became seriously hurt.

“I am not here to fight you!” she called, “I merely wish to talk!”

“Like I haven’t heard that one before,” he growled, ducking behind the table and firing at her. “You’ll get no reward for me, dream demon! Or didn’t you hear? Your boss is gone!”

Reward? Dream demon? What is he talking about? Mentally running through various tactics and spells while conjuring a magical shield against his energy blasts, and already growing annoyed that he failed to see reason, she slipped back into her old habit of speech, “If thou seekest to impress Us with thy skill in battle, thou art failing miserably.”

She heard a dry laugh from him, “That’s rich, coming from someone who just fell for the oldest trick in the book!”

Her confusion at his statement was just enough of a distraction, that she momentarily lost focus on maintaining her shield. But that confusion vanished as a weighted net suddenly dropped on her from above. She hit the ground hard, sore but uninjured, and not for the first time, grateful of the earth pony durability alicorns were blessed with. She tried to lift the net off with her magic, only to realize that it was coated with some manner of glue. It was not only stuck to her, but to the floor as well, leaving her trapped.

The human came towards her, leveling his weapon, “Did you come alone, or are there others in here with you?” He asked, glancing around the room for a moment.

“Release me at once!” ordered Luna. “I came alone, to help you, ungrateful cur! I am no demon!”

“I’m not taking any chances.” His voice was cold, and she saw his finger tighten on the trigger.

Knowing she had only seconds, the alicorn fired a beam of magic, striking him on the shoulder. He cried out in pain, dropping his weapon. It dissolved into mist the instant he let go. The stallion fell to his knees, clutching at his wound for a few moments and glaring at her, then he swayed, releasing his wound and reaching toward his head as his eyes rolled. He slumped to the floor in a faint as the room around them vanished into black nothingness. The net holding Luna disappeared, and she moved to his side, afraid for a moment that she had used too much power and maimed him.

Gently rolling him over, she sighed with relief on seeing the damage. It would hurt when he awoke, and the burn was serious, but it was not life threatening. Lowering her horn to the injury, she began a healing spell.

He groaned, slowly opening his eyes. They widened in shock on seeing her so close, and preoccupied as she was, Luna couldn’t react fast enough to dodge his incoming fist.

She reeled, dazed at the force of his blow, and staggered away from him. She raised a hoof to her muzzle, wincing. Nothing felt broken, but the hoof came away bloody.

The stallion slowly got to his feet, his uninjured hand wearing a set of blood-covered brass knuckles. He seemed confused as he looked at her, though it was hard to tell with her eyes watering. He was rolling his hurt shoulder slowly, prodding at it gently with the other hand. She had only partially healed it.

Finally, satisfied that he could use the limb without too much difficulty, another crossbow appeared in his hands, loaded and pointing straight at her, “What were you doing to me?”

“I was healing you, you fool,” It was hard to tell what her tone of voice was, due to her bleeding muzzle, but the look on her face was one of deep annoyance.

Slowly, he relaxed his hold on the crossbow, an uncertain look on his face.

Luna sighed, focusing her healing spell on herself now. When she was finished, she said, “You have seen my power. If I wanted to kill you, I would have by now.”

He thought this over, then lowered the bow, pointing it towards the ground, “I’m not saying I believe you. But suppose for the sake of argument, that you’re telling the truth. If you’re not a dream demon, how did you get into my mind?”

“Magic,” she said simply, as if that explained everything, “As you yourself said, I am a dreamwalker.”

He smirked, shaking his head a little at that, as if chiding himself for not expecting such an answer, “I noticed something else strange about you. Your speech is normal now, but just a short while ago, it got a little archaic. Are you a time traveler also?”

Inwardly, she winced at her slip up, while outwardly her eyes narrowed. She had the feeling that he was teasing her about it, but she resisted the urge to smack him. His question, however, caught her off guard, and she blushed, “Not exactly... I am more of a... ‘mare out of time’, as the common folk say...”

He chuckled softly at that, “I know the feeling...” Then he winced, raising a hand to his head. The weapon in his other hand shimmered, blurring further.

Luna took a cautious step towards him, her wings opening.

The crossbow was pointed at her throat in an instant, solid once more, though the dreamer’s face bore a pained expression.

“Please,” she said in her calmest voice, “do not strain yourself. It will only make your head injury worse. What proof do you need that I am not here to harm you? I only wish to talk.” She could see fear in his eyes, but it was not the same as her subjects had once held. He was not afraid of her. But of what then?

Several moments passed. Then he approached her cautiously, never lowering the bow until he was right in front of her. She kept perfectly still, wondering what he was doing. When he stood so close that they were almost nose to nose, he reached into his coat and pulled out a tiny flashlight. She saw the crossbow disappear, then felt one hand grip her under the jaw. Slowly, he turned her head to shine the light into each eye. She winced at the brightness, but tried to keep her eyes open as best she could.

Finally, he stepped back with a slow nod, returning the flashlight to the inner pockets of his coat. “Alright... I believe you. For now.” As he spoke, the library slowly reformed around them, though still dimly lit and blurred at the edges. Then he bowed low to her, bending at the waist. She supposed it would be impractical to do it as ponies did with only two legs, “Apologies, Your Highness. I’ve had... bad experiences with dreamwalkers in the past.”

She dipped her head gracefully in return, “Apology accepted.” She remembered his brother’s warning and decided not to mention her visit to the twin, or Cipher for that matter, in case it might set him off again. “I suppose it was my own fault. I should have realized that a non-pony might react poorly to my presence.”

His eyes narrowed suddenly, “And which ‘non-ponies’ did you visit before me?”

Horseapples. Now she would have to say something. He might react worse if he caught her in a lie. “Your... grandson?” she ventured.

He threw himself backwards at her answer, putting as much distance between them as he could, and slid a few meters on his back as a new weapon materialized in his hands. He quickly recovered and stood, aiming the new device with practiced ease. This time it was a larger grey weapon that was pointed at her. Her first thought was that it was a larger version of his earlier energy weapon, and the closest comparison which came to mind was a small square cannon with a pincer shape at the opening. The thing was nearly as long as the human was tall. The metal was stained and dull, and there were several dials and buttons on it. The stallion held it with two handles spaced apart on the bottom. The closest handle to him was what had the trigger, and there was also a black piece sticking out the back of the device which rested against his shoulder. Mounted atop the weapon was a tiny black spyglass, which he used to aim it with, somehow managing to glare at her with one eye shut. The pincer shape at the front was open vertically, and a glowing blue bulb of energy quivered and crackled in the mouth between the claws.

“What were you doing in my nephew’s mind?!” he snarled, looking furious.

Something told her that this strange shoulder cannon was much more dangerous than the tiny cannon he had threatened her with earlier. Her wings flared defensively, and she saw his finger tighten on the trigger. “Hold!” she cried, trying not to use the Royal Canterlot Voice and forcing herself to keep still against the fight or flight response. “We have done no harm to thy foal! Merely eased a nightmare he was having, as is Our duty!

He relaxed slightly, but only just, keeping the weapon trained on her, “I’m listening. But I suggest you speak quickly.”

This one was swiftly getting on her nerves, but losing her temper would be a fatal mistake. Looking into his face, she could see a mix of rage and hatred, but now there was uncertainty, and deeper in his eyes, that unnamed fear still lurked...

Taking a deep breath, Luna calmed herself, and spoke, “I am Princess Luna. Diarch of this land of Equestria, Ruler of the Night, and Guardian of Dreams. It is my duty to walk the dreams of my subjects and vanquish their nightmares. We were alerted to your arrival into our world through magical means, and a search party was sent out to find you. They failed to locate you before nightfall, and so I offered to visit your dreams and speak with you to better determine your whereabouts. Your nephew’s mind was the first I visited, but he has taken ill with fever, and was unable to speak to me. Then I entered your brother’s mind and rid him of a night terror. In return, he bid me to visit your dream since, as he put it, ‘you got the brains of the family’, and thus would be more able to aid me.”

Confusion, and the beginnings of shame crossed his face, as he slowly lowered the cannon, “You... came to rescue us...?”

She nodded slowly, “Now, may we speak as civilized beings? Or must I subdue you for my own safety?”

His face flushed, and he avoided her stern look, slowly pointing his weapon at the floor. It vanished as the crossbow had. Suddenly, he swayed, and she rushed forward, catching him against her side as he fell, “Sorry...” his voice was sheepish, and a hand went to his head again even as he tried to hide a grimace.

“You’ve exhausted yourself. You need to rest.” she laid down, gently lowering him to the ground and letting him lie against her.

“When my family is safe... Not before.” He tried to stand, but Luna caught him in her magic so that he couldn’t move. After struggling for a few seconds, he sighed, letting himself go limp with a little chuckle, “I guess you won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The lunar alicorn gave a small smile at that, “Let us just say, you are not the only one who has trouble with pride.” When she was sure he would not try to stand again, she finished healing his shoulder. Then she released him, and he sat down beside her.

Suddenly he moved forward, putting a hand on her flank. Startled, her wing swept out to knock him away, but he ducked under it.

“What are you--?!”

“You’re bleeding,” he interrupted, putting both hands to her flank and applying pressure.

“What?” She winced in pain, then looked closer. It was the place where Cipher had struck her, and the slashes had reopened, “Oh, I see. Yes... I was wounded by a nightmare earlier, but if you remove your hands, I can heal it easily.” This worried her. The marks should have healed when she had applied her magic to them before. It was true that wounds in the dream were as painful as those in reality, and she could even be slain if not careful, but for her magic to fail in healing a dream wound would mean that was a physical injury... The power needed to cause such damage was rare, even among the worst of night terrors she faced.

He did as she instructed, and she cast another healing spell, covering the injury with bandages as an extra measure. If it was indeed as she suspected, Celestia was surely treating it, and she would find out soon enough on waking.

The stallion leaned back against the nearest bookshelf, wiping his hands clean on the red sweater beneath his coat. He still refused to meet her eyes, “So... What’s the penalty for threatening and assaulting a ruling Princess around here?”

“Oh, imprisonment. Or banishment. Or imprisonment in the place to which you are banished,” she said breezily.


“However... I might be inclined to overlook it this once, given your current state of health... Perhaps that concussion impaired your judgement.”

“Please, don’t. Don’t try to tease me, Princess. I nearly killed you... Several times.” He paused, suddenly struck by a thought. Studying her for a few moments, he asked his next question slowly, uncertain of how she would take it. “You do realize you could have easily captured me with your telekinesis before our fight even started, right?”

She nodded, waiting for the question she knew was coming.

“Then why didn’t you? Why allow me to fight back at all?”

The alicorn took a deep breath, gathering her thoughts before replying, “In another time, long ago, I would not have hesitated to simply overpower you. I might even have slain you, if I thought it necessary. But after...” She trailed off, wondering if she should tell him the whole story, but after a moment’s reflection, decided now was not the time. “Well, let us say that I do not like the pony I once was. I am not proud of those past actions, and wish to distance myself from them. Therefore, I sought to try reasoning with you before resorting to combat.”

He nodded slowly in understanding. “I’m grateful that you at least tried. But is your sibling so forgiving?”

“She is even more so than I am, actu--” she stopped suddenly, staring at him. “How did you know about my sister? Surely you would not react so aggressively towards an alicorn if you already knew of her.”

He smiled a little at that, explaining “I don’t know anything about your sister and I’ve never been to this world before, but you practically told me. Firstly, you said you’re one of a Diarchy, so there are two rulers, equal in power. Your nighttime theme tells me the rest,” he gestured to her flowing star-filled mane, royal jewelry, and cutie mark. “Given the dual nature of day and night, it makes the most sense that your co-ruler is a sibling, most likely with a daytime theme.”

Luna nodded at his reasoning, giving her own smile. “Impressive, and yes, my sister is Ruler of the Day. Her name is Celestia.” She shrugged her wings, “In any case, we can discuss that matter later. For now we have more important business: getting you out of the Everfree Forest alive.” She projected a map of Equestria on the floor between them.

He shifted position, kneeling to get a better view of the entire map. It looked like a rather uncomfortable posture to her.

She raised a wing invitingly. “Come sit here. The forest is easier to see at this angle, and my fur is more comfortable than the floor.”

He blinked in confusion. The look reminded her of an owl, and she suppressed a giggle, “Uh... Are you sure that’s not... improper?”

“Nonsense,” she said. “ No one else is here to see, if that is what bothers you.”

He thought it over for a moment, then settled himself with his back and head against her barrel. “Huh... You were right, it is easier to see from here. So you said we’re in this forest?” He pointed to the map. “Do you know the quickest way out? It looks like there’s a town nearby.”

She smiled. “That would be Ponyville. T’is a charming village, but too far for you to reach, I’m afraid.” He nodded slowly, but she noticed the furrows in his brow, and sighed, “Have you understood any of the names I have mentioned thus far?”

He shook his head, “No, they sound like meaningless noise to me. I only knew they were names because of the context, but it seems that something got lost in translation. I didn’t even get your name, Princess, and I doubt you’d have better luck understanding mine.”

“Perhaps,” she said thoughtfully, “but surely it could not hurt to try. What is your name?”

Vwdq-irug Pines,” he said slowly and clearly.

Once again she had the impression of stone in the first syllable. But the second was different, this time it was a river which came to mind. But, that was not quite right... The river was shallow here... a crossing?... She nodded slowly, “The last name I understand. But your first is... difficult... The closest my mind can translate it is stone... and... a ford?”

He chuckled at that, then rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “Hm... It’s close enough, and what is your name, Your Highness?”

“My name is Lu-na,” she pronounced it as he had his, making each syllable as clear as she could.

His brow furrowed in concentration, “I got two meanings out of that... The first is ‘moon’... and the second is ‘silver’... Silver Moon seems a fitting name for you.” He gestured to her cutie mark. “Would you mind if I called you that? At least until we can get past this language barrier.”

She nodded, “Very well, and what am I to call you?”

“Call me Ford,” he answered with a smile.

She returned the smile, then gestured back to the map with her horn. “But we should return to the matter at hoof. As I said, this village is too far from you. Unfortunately, I cannot pinpoint your exact location with my magic for a teleport spell, as the forest’s own magic disrupts it too much. How fares your group? Can they still travel? I know that your nephew’s leg is broken and your brother was posioned by a cocktrice, but what of the others?”

“Well... there’s my head injury, and my niece ate some flowers of unknown species and toxicity, but aside from that the most they have are cuts and bruises. We’ve been without water for a day and a half, so mobility is only going to get worse unless we find some. If my nephew is feverish, then his leg is probably infected, and there’s no telling how long my brother has...”

“A day or two at most without treatment,” Luna said quietly.

“I thought as much...” His shoulders slumped, and he rested his hand in his hands, the picture of dejection. “You saw the results of my search for answers from what knowledge I have.” He gestured around at the scattered books.

“There is still time. As for your nephew, sallow”--she stopped herself, remembering the tree’s modern name--”willow bark will help to lessen his fever and ease the pain from his leg.”

He perked up at that. “Willow? How did I understand that name...? We are talking about the same tree, right?” He pulled a photograph of a willow tree from inside his trench coat and showed it to her.

She nodded, “The very same! But why did you not give him some sooner, if you knew?”

He sighed, looking at the picture. “If we were still human, I wouldn’t have hesitated, but I couldn’t risk it in our current forms. It could have poisoned him for all I knew.”

“A wise decision, but you needn’t fear. That herb at least, is safe.”

“What about the flowers my niece ate?”

“Show me. I am no apothecarist, but it may be a common plant.”

He pulled another picture from his coat, this time of blue flowers. She recognized them at once, and tried to stifle her laugh, “Poison Joke?! Oh dear...”

The stallion scowled, crossing his arms over his chest, “I fail to see how something with ‘poison’ in its name strikes you as funny.”

She shook her head, quickly composing herself. “You misunderstand me.” She gave a reassuring smile, “That plant will cause her no harm, but it is magical in nature. It plays practical jokes on any creature that touches it by changing their physical attributes. I am unsure what exactly happens if you eat it... But, most likely the same thing.”

His expression changed to one of curiousity. “Interesting... What kind of changes does it make?”

She conjured a photograph of Twilight Sparkle and her friends. “This is my sister’s former pupil and her friends. They are the ones currently searching for you.”

He pointed to Twilight as he studied the picture. “Another alicorn? Is she royality as well?”

“She is. That is Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

Now he looked confused, “That... doesn’t make sense. You and your sister rule, but you didn’t call yourselves ‘queens’... If ‘princess’ is the highest authority, how does that work in a Diarchy if there are three of you? Does she rule a different kingdom?”

She thought about that for a moment, impressed again by his quick wit, but unsure of how to explain. “T’is a bit... complicated. I will explain later.”

“I look forward to it, but what does this have to do with poison joke?”

She conjured another photograph, “This is what happened after her assistant dumped poison joke blossoms on them as a Fool’s Day prank.”

Now it was his turn to try stifling his laughter at the sight, “Wow! I’d better not let my brother near those. He loves pranks! Heh...” he cleared his throat, “I assume there’s an antidote?”

“A simple herbal bath removes the effects.”

“Good. Good...” His gaze had returned to the map, lost in thought, “I see a river runs through here, and what looks to be some old ruins. If we could reach them, could our rescue party use those as landmarks?”

She focused her magic, and as her horn lit, so did a patch of forest on the map in between the river and the ruins, “This glow is roughly where you are, according to my spell. Head east, and you should find the ruins of an ancient castle. They are a well known landmark, and you will have shelter from the elements and the creatures of the forest. I will inform the others to wait for you there.”

For the first time since she had met him, a look of relief crossed his face. But then a look of suspension clouded his features, “But how do I know I can trust you?”

She shook her head sadly, then locked eyes with him. “If you truly do not trust me... Then nothing I say will convince you. That choice is yours alone. But a more pressing question is, can you afford not to?”

He held her gaze for several moments, then sighed, shaking his head. Standing up as she banished the map, he bowed low to her again. “Thank you, Your Highness.”

She shook her head again, her expression grave. “Do not thank me just yet. This is all I can do for you, and dangers still lie ahead.” She looked him over one last time, looked into his eyes. The unknown fear still lingered, but there was something else in their depths as well, some inner strength...

“But I think you can make it.”

A nod was his only reply, before moving to sit at the table. He began to sort through the pile of books and scrolls.

She plucked the pile out of his reach with a mass levitation. “Not more digging through those tonight,” she chided, as he swiped to grab something out of the pile while trying to protest. She conjured a bed, and placed the stack of reference material back on the table. “You have a concussion. Your mind as well as your body needs to rest, or you risk making it worse.”

The stallion crossed his arms over his chest, looking for all the world like a grumpy owl.

Luna hid her amusement behind a stern expression, and pointed a hoof at the bed.

He huffed, giving the closest she had ever seen to a pout on any adult. Then he sighed, rolled his eyes, and reluctantly climbed into the bed, not even bothering to remove his glasses or boots. He was snoring moments after his head touched the pillow.

Luna allowed herself a gentle smile, and a quiet laugh. She conjured a parchment map of Equestria, placing it on the bed beside him, “Good luck,” she whispered, then spread her wings, flying into the dark mist, and out of the dream.

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