• Published 23rd Aug 2012
  • 22,706 Views, 980 Comments

The White Rider - Ascension Call



Crossover with LotR: Gandalf comes to Equestria to visit the Princesses. Hilarity ensues.

  • ...
45
 980
 22,706

Prologue: Into Equestria

The early morning sun that rose over Minas Tirith illuminated the great city, its white stone glinting with the reflection of pure sunlight. At this hour the City of Kings had not yet awoken, for aside from the patrolling guardsmen and early-risen citizens, the rest of the populace still remained beneath the spell of slumber. This ease was not without cause; with the War of the Ring won the Free Peoples found the danger of the land lifted, at least for now, and were more than prepared to enjoy the fruits of the times of peace that would soon come. However not all were at ease, for many still had work to do.

The old wizard that stood atop Minas Tirith was one such individual. There he rested before the Citadel of Minas Tirith in the presence of the White Tree, his smoking-pipe in one hand and his staff in the other. Outwardly he appeared composed, though it would be obvious to any who glanced at him that there were many thoughts on his mind; his brow was furrowed gently in a manner not unlike that of someone in the middle of recalling a distant memory, and his mouth was bent in a slight frown. Indeed, the wizard was deep in thought, but not in thoughts of times gone by, for instead the wizard was planning that which lay ahead in his path.

Sauron had been banished from Middle-Earth; his minions routed. Gandalf had succeeded in his mission to aid assisting those who rose their banners against the Dark Lord, and for once in his ancient life he relished in the victory. Humble as he was, watching the lands and peoples thrive in the new age gave him joy and pride, and yet unlike others that saw the end of this war Gandalf did not feel a true sense of closure. He had unfinished business to attend to; not here in Middle-Earth but in another land, and on his mind were many thoughts of that business as he raised his pipe to his mouth.

The rich aroma of the pipe-weed and its invigorating smoke cleared away some of his cluttered thoughts. With a sigh he puffed, and the vapor took the form of a sailing galleon on a short journey through the air. The wizard chuckled at the sight for he remembered performing the same trick many a time in the years past, long before he had even become acquainted with the likes of the Fellowship or Thorin and Company; how long ago all that seemed! To him it felt as if centuries had passed with all these changes to the world, though not nearly as much time had passed as that.

He eyed the burning tobacco that sat in his pipe as realization dawned upon him again. The War of the Ring was over, and it would not be long before he sailed west to depart Middle-Earth alongside others who would accompany him. A year had passed since the war’s end, and his time in Middle-Earth was waning. He had a very important task to complete in another place; a promise to keep. It was time to make haste.

From behind him sounded steps on soft grass. Slowly he turned to see Faramir, the former Captain of the Gondorian Rangers and a trusted advisor to the King. This trust was well-earned; after all the former Captain had done no small job of maintaining a strong front against Mordor's forces, while his foolish Steward of a father, Denethor had succumbed to blind panic and madness. There was indeed a difference between father and son was great.

"There is something troubling you, is there not?” asked Faramir.

With a wry smile Gandalf replied: “I would not go so far as to say ‘troubling’, but there may indeed be certain causes for concern, yes.”

“Is there another danger? Even now, after the Dark Lord has been vanquished?” asked Faramir.

“No; there is no danger. The causes for concern I refer to are of my affairs only,” said Gandalf, and in an instant Faramir was calm again.

“I see,” Faramir replied, and after a brief pause he continued. “Mithrandir, more than once you have swiftly come to shield myself and my people from those that would do us great harm. Is there any sort of aid that I can provide to you?"

“No. I do not believe so, though I thank you for the offer all the same. All that is required of me is a visit to a few old friends of mine.”

“Only a visit to friends?” Faramir asked with a note of curiosity in his voice, finding it a bit strange that the Wizard would need to contemplate the circumstances of such an uncomplicated task, and also wondering who the aforementioned friends were. Other wizards? Elves older than the city they stood in? Faramir found himself venturing many guesses already.

With a chuckle the wizard said: “Why, yes. Though reaching them is a convoluted matter in itself." He turned from Faramir to stare out towards the fields before the city, surveying them with a small frown, and Faramir followed his eyes; though it had long since passed remnants of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields remained scattered across the soil, marring the view of the lands. “In any case I must leave Minas Tirith soon.”

“Where will you be heading?” asked Faramir.

Gandalf's glanced at the high sun, and he answered: “A place called Equestria." Then his mind's eye were focused upon a different time and place, where the sun and moon took each other's places within moments at the borders of day and night.

“Equestria? I do not know a place with that name,” Gandalf heard Faramir say.

Unsurprisingly, thought Gandalf, and his mind turned to preparations; Shadowfax’s speed was a great boon, as was the lembas bread. He would only need a bit of the nutritious Elven waybread, he thought, and thankfully he was at no shortage of it. Perhaps he would bring all of it in case it came to be of use. Regardless, he knew that the journey would not be a very difficult one.

“Mithrandir?” Faramir asked again, splitting his thoughts.

“Yes? Pardon me. I am simply considering some circumstances," said Gandalf.

“What is this Equestria that you speak of?” asked Faramir, who by now found the disproportion between the number of his questions and the number of answers gained uncomfortable.

“Home to the friends I mentioned," said Gandalf.

"Then who are these friends, and where is Equestria?" asked Faramir, who found the wizard's vague replies unfit.

“Unfortunately I must leave most of your questions unanswered," the wizard replied. "For I made a promise that I intend not to break."

Despite the swarm of concerns within Faramir's mind he merely nodded, knowing that pursuing the matter would be fruitless now.

Gandalf laid a hand upon the armored shoulder of Faramir and said: “Look to the future,” and then the wizard turned to leave.

“How soon are you leaving?” asked Faramir as he followed behind.

“I am taking my leave to prepare, and hopefully depart within the hour,” Gandalf replied, as he slowed his pace so that Faramir could walk at his side.

“So soon? But the sun has just begun to rise!” exclaimed Faramir, astonished at the news.

“The earlier I depart, the fewer questions asked,” was Gandalf’s reply. They passed the White Tree and descended the stairs to the level beneath them. Gandalf’s staff sent echoes through the stone city as it clipped and clopped against the floor. “Men are curious beings, after all. It is their nature.” The wizard and the soldier were hailed by a group of guards, and they responded in kind.

Faramir nodded. “I see. But why is such secrecy required?” he said as they descended a long stair. “It seems that you wish to keep even the fact that you are on an errand a secret.”

Gandalf’s brow furrowed. “A wizard’s errands are never simple, Faramir. But yes, I am treating this matter with discretion, and…” he glanced around in a search for eavesdroppers, and seeing none he continued in a low whisper. “…it would be much appreciated if you would kindly keep all that I have revealed to yourself.”

“I shall,” answered Faramir with a nod.

“I thank you,” Gandalf said, gratified. He gazed up at the sky; the sun was at a steady rise, and he knew he would have to hasten. His walk quickened as he addressed his companion. “I am off to my quarters. I will ready my supplies there.”

“I will take my leave, then," said Faramir. "I will await you at the Main Gate.”

“No,” Gandalf said firmly. “The appearance of the Steward there alongside a Wizard would no doubt attract more attention than my presence alone will.” He faced Faramir with his staff firmly gripped in his hand. “Let us bid each other farewell here.”

The former Ranger bowed at the feet of the White Rider, and then rose and said: “Be safe, Mithrandir, wherever you travel.”

Gandalf bowed in turn. “Keep Gondor safe, Faramir. I shall return,” he said, and just before he turned to go he added: “And if anyone asks, tell them I am paying a visit to Tom Bombadil."

Faramir blinked. So many questions! “Who is Tom?” he asked. But Gandalf either did not hear him or simply ignored him, for he turned heel and walked away without another word.

--------------------

The marble room that housed him was illuminated by the new sunlight, and he stood now before a table upon which were placed the small assortment of goods which he had decided were ample supplies for his journey; six large loaves of lembas bread; his pipe; his cloak; and a few packets of different pipe-weeds. He stroked his beard as he considered his options.

Would he bring more lembas, or Old Toby? He wondered as he reached into a small cupboard nearby and produced a tiny brown bag of the fragrant tobacco. He slowly lifted it upwards before deciding against bringing it. Now he wished that the Fellowship had remained by him; the Hobbits had returned to the Shire; Legolas and Gimli had ventured off to parts unknown, though he had heard talk of them traveling to Helm’s Deep; and Aragorn was now King Elessar of Gondor. Then Gandalf berated himself inwardly for very nearly neglecting the memory of Boromir and the warrior's sacrifice, which he had heard tell of from Aragorn; the tale of the Son of Gondor who had fallen with many arrows in him and many slain orcs at his feet would never be gone.

He wished he were able to give them all a farewell before he left this land, and perhaps they would even be able to aid him in deciding what was necessary and what was not on a journey. At least some of them would be able, he corrected; he remembered the foolish arguments that the hobbits four would have when they were unable to agree on how much bread or mushrooms or bacon that should be brought. After a few more moments of deliberation, Gandalf grabbed a small knapsack and tossed the elf-bread in, while keeping the pipe and tobacco within his cloak.

The wizard then donned his white mantle and then slung the knapsack over his back,and then he walked over to a short wooden cupboard that lay against the wall and opened it. Two small long boxes of oak lay within, which he retrieved and placed within his knapsack. He smiled warmly as he reviewed the contents of each container in his mind, and he knew they would be quite appreciated.

--------------------

The wind whipped around the White Rider and his steed as they rode. The journey was just as fast as he had predicted, for he had made this three-day journey once alongside Pippin; but that had been during a troubled time that had come to a close. The horse and his rider stopped very little, only taking the occasional rest over the course of days that they rode. At this moment, they passed through the border between Gondor and Rohan. Gandalf saw the familiar outline of Edoras in the distance.

The people of Rohan were the Rohirrim, and they were known throughout the land as famed horse masters and breeders, and their fighters were horsemen who had turned the tide more than once upon Sauron's dark forces during the long War. Here, horses were revered to such an extent that they represented the very soul of the Rohirrim; their blades bore equine icons, as did their banners, and the engravings upon their crafts. At Gandalf’s urging, Shadowfax then slowed to a stop atop a hill, where the wizard proceeded to survey the surrounding lands. The noon sun hung high over Middle-Earth, and light was cast across the entire land. Gandalf saw far, and spotted the great forest that lay north of Edoras; Fangorn.

It was near. In the distance, Gandalf watched a detachment of Rohan’s cavalry ride out from Edoras’ gates and into the plains, and in the sunlight their armor and weapons gleamed as they sat proudly astride their horses. Gandalf felt the earth quake slightly beneath his feet as they galloped powerfully into the green lands around.

--------------------

Though Fangorn Forest was feared by much of Middle-Earth, Gandalf never found it to be intimidating in the slightest, largely due to the fact that he was older than the entire forest itself, and had known it when it was but a single tree. He stood at the edge of the woods with Shadowfax beside him. The Dark Lord’s defeat and the expelling of his influence from Middle-Earth had changed the very air within the forest; brightened it, it seemed, and the menacing darkness was largely gone. Then Gandalf turned to his steed and caressed his mane as he whispered to it.

“Shadowfax,” Gandalf said with affection laden in his voice. “I will now go forth alone. When I return, so shall my call. Go.”

The white horse neighed, then turned and trotted away from the forest. The wizard watched as Shadowfax turned into a shining white silhouette in the distance and then disappeared entirely into the horizon. He knew himself fortunate to have such a friend; the Lord of Horses only bore the wizard by his own choice, something which the latter would never dare to take for granted. He turned back to face the forest. The old woods were not threatening to him, and in fact he had quite a few acquaintances here.

Gandalf walked forward, completely at ease as he entered the forest. He heard the leaves crush underneath his boot as he stepped, and then again as his other foot fell. The forest was very dark, most light eliminated by the great trees. Aside from the occasional rustle of movement in the distance, there was utter silence. To Gandalf, it was peaceful here. He continued onwards, making sure to keep his distance from the trees. Though unlikely, he would hate to be stepped on by a fidgeting Ent.

He walked through the dark woods, observing and listening silently, and focusing on his surroundings. He hoped that he would catch a glimpse of Treebeard , but it seemed as if the entire forest was still today, Ents and trees alike. He wondered if it was because of his presence, but did not give the issue much thought.

The woods began to grow denser and darker, which Gandalf knew meant that he was reaching the forest’s heart. He continued steadily through the ancient woods until there was utter darkness. He could barely see, yet such a disadvantage only made it clear to him that he was getting closer and closer. After what he believed to be hours of walking he came to a shadowed clearing in the wood. Opposite from where he stood was a vast cave.

He raised his staff, aiming it into the dark, and a bright light shone from its tip. He peered into the illuminated depths and smiled.

“Ah. There it is,” he said.

He had reached the foot of the mountains that overlooked Fangorn. The great peaks could not be seen; any view of the sky was completely obscured by the numerous branches of the trees. Gandalf only realized that he had reached the mountains due to the fact that he had reached his ultimate destination; the entrance into the ancient cave that stood before him, huge and hollow, burrowed into the hard stone of those equally primordial mountains. At first sight, it appeared to be no different than any other cavern in existence, but Gandalf knew better. Closing his eyes, he leaned forward slightly, turning his head and cupping his ear so that he may focus on what he could hear; from deep within the cavern he heard echoes of birds chirping, as well as the rustling of trees.

“So here I am…” he muttered as he beamed at the black void in front of him, knowing it as the entrance of a rather long tunnel. He breathed in deeply and turned to gaze behind him, into the depths of the forest. He hoped to return to Middle-Earth soon, and somewhat regretted that he could not view the lands again before he departed; at this time, which Gandalf knew to be dusk, it was likely breathtaking in beauty. He took a moment to remember the great mountains the stretched over the grassy lands, now purged of the Lidless Eye's influence forever. Without another word the wizard stepped forward into the great cave and into Equestria.

--------------------

Though he had walked this path once, Gandalf did not find it any less tedious. It was long, just as long as he remembered, and just as dark; there was no light other than that which emanated from his staff. His booted steps were steady on the hard stone of the tunnel floor.

Yet the cavern was warm and there were continuous echoes of birdsong and wind. With each step the wizard was moving closer to his goal. His eyes were set on the darkness in front of him, for he knew that sooner or later he would see a very bright light.

Then he saw it. At first it was no more than a speck of white in the black of his vision, but it grew as he walked. His heart was beating with excitement and joy, which was a sensation that was rather alien to him. He rarely experienced it aside from during the occasional moments in his long history, where he would meet dear friends of his after a long time away.

The end of the tunnel could now be seen. It was a blinding white light, which Gandalf had seen in his dreams; one that he missed. A low, hearty laugh rose from his throat, and when the brightness blinded him he raised a hand to shield his vision, but kept his pace. The light began to envelop him, and he felt glad in its warmth. He took a deep breath, and lowered his hand to look into the radiance.

His eyes stung no longer. Instead his vision changed so that all he saw was silver glass that covered the rough stone of the tunnel. He closed his eyes as he felt the warmth inside him turn to great heat, but not one that may scorch. It was here that he knew that he would change. Onwards he walked, with tight-shut eyes.

Then he heard the noise of steady clops made by hooves hitting hard rock. He knew its meaning, and then he waited until the echoes of birds and tree leaves rustling grew until they surrounded him vibrant and loud, no longer mere echoes. He breathed in and now there was the smell of lush untamed forest-grass, and rich wet soil. Finally he opened his eyes and looked downwards.

No longer did he wear the appearance of Man; his limbs ended with hooves, and his body was now entirely equine in nature, though his white robes and cloak remained on him. His skin was covered by a pure white coat beneath his snowy long hair and beard (though, he knew, he would have to refer to his hair as his mane now). Though glee was in his heart he knew he would need some time to adjust to this form that he had worn long ago in the past. At this thought he looked upwards and crossed his eyes to examine the horn that had grown from his head and now stuck out from beneath his long white mane.

Here he could not help but burst into laughter; of all the forms he had taken since the start of his lifetime, this was certainly one of the more outrageous. Nevertheless he felt a deep sense of fulfillment in this equine body that he had walked the lands of Equestria in before, and thankfully, he still had his staff in hoof, and Glamdring remained sheathed at his side. He peered into the thick dark forest around him, which he knew was not Fangorn. “Everfree,” Gandalf said, and the word was strange to his tongue, for it had not been spoken in quite some time. But these woods were familiar to him, though not nearly as familiar to him in comparison to those of Fangorn; these were the woods of Equestria.

Then Gandalf spotted the outline of a familiar castle through the trees quite some distance away from where he stood, and though he could not see it clearly he recognized it as the very same old castle that pervaded his memories from all those years ago. As fond recollections came a gust blew and his beard flowed with the wind as the tree-leaves that hung above gently rattled, and his eyes beamed at the bright new world and the great stone fortress that housed the two alicorns that he had promised to return to.

“Celestia, Luna… I have returned,” said the wizard.