• Member Since 14th Mar, 2012
  • offline last seen Monday

Ether Echoes

A star drifting through the cosmos.


Featured on EQD

For all that is great and good in her young life in Fillydelphia, Light Breeze is discontent. With loving parents, a bratty but funny older brother, and wonderful friends, she should have been having a wonderful time, but all her life she has been haunted. She dreads sleep, and does everything she can to stay awake, for when her dreams come they are terrible nightmares, as though she's been sucked into some other, horrible world, where she's someone she desperately doesn't want to be. She has never had a truly normal dream or nightmare—what she has is real enough.

Princess Luna, famed guardian of sleep for troubled dreamers the world over, hears of her plight and sets out to help, but what she faces will be more than she bargained for. Will she be able to help the filly overcome her curse, or shall she be drawn into it as well?

Cowritten with Solana.

Content Warnings: Mild transphobia, some depictions of parental abuse.

Chapters (15)
Comments ( 281 )

Oh, this sounds good! :pinkiehappy:

"something else her family never would have tolerated"
While it's looking like that "her" is quite likely going to be the preferred pronoun for this character later on, it also looks like, at least as a human, they're not actually aware of that yet, and it here is, unless I'm misreading, inconsistent with the male pronouns otherwise used; I'm assuming its presence here is an error?

Also, an interesting start. I wonder just what's going on here...

That specific slippage was in error, aye.

Obviously no spoils, but Owen does unambiguously have a lot of figuring out to do.

Hope you all enjoy!

Hum, interesting premise of alternating between two world, I might say that a psychologist might say that he has gender dysphoria so it might be something to be careful about it. Still, I wonder how those two worlds will interact with each other in his life; I would like to see see where it is going.

Also if you are looking to commission your very own cover art you can look me up. here is my DA gallery if you want to take a look and and here is my YouTube Channel if you want to see my work process. I hope to hear from you soon and good luck on your story.

Yes, definitely - the narrative is tinged by the character's feelings and self-image, and when and if that should change it will change with them.

What’s real, what’s the dream, and who am I (or any of us) really? Love to see where this goes!

Look forward to it!

I plan to update Fridays, unless I get impatient, but it's nice to pace myself. I have almost four more chapters ready, so don't fear it falling short soon.

Aye, that's what I thought; thanks!

WOOO-HOOOOO! What a way to start a chapter!

So, um, I'm liking it. :raritystarry:

"Coming!" Owen called, grateful for once for his brother's lack of respect for his privacy. "Don't get your primaries in a bunch."

HA HA HA This is funny only because it's perfect.

I might send more praise in a PM because SPOILERS.

Please do! Glad you're liking the start.

Turns out, I like the whole chapter.

Also placing very favorable odds on my liking chapter 2.

I'm already very well intrigued by this. It's not too often I come across fanfics in general that can pull something like this off but we'll, here we are. =) I think this is a great first chapter, especially when it comes to the main character(s), and the premise of this whole story.
It doesn't bother me that Luna doesn't appear yet. In fact, it's kind of interesting she didn't appear in either world. Given that Light Breeze/Owen talks about recurring dreams and nightmares, you'd think Luna would be there or aware already.
I'm wondering if there is a possibility that a) both lives / worlds are co existing; or b) both still affect one another, so how much does it matter if one of the worlds / lives are "real" or "not real"?
I have a few ideas brewing, and I'm looking forward to more chapters and seeing just where this rabbit hole takes us!

Hanging her head, she sighed. "Yeah, sure. I'm sorry. You guys look like you have just… no context, and you probably think I'm going discordant or something."

This. This I love. Independent worlds will have independent etymologies and turns of phrase that are informed by history and reach through even the smoothest translators. Using the word "discordant" instead of "crazy" is a phenomenal example of the phenomenon.

Thanks! I'm glad someone appreciated that, because that's exactly why I did it!

In my head, discordant can also mean you're off in your spirit and body as well as your mind. It's a fault in Harmony, a violation of the natural order (in a world where magic is considered part of the natural order.)

Oh, oh no. I can already tell this is gonna be a heart-wrencher.

Yeah, a little! I hope it will be in a good way, though.

I continue to find this interesting; thank you for writing. :)

Thanks! I always appreciate my regulars.

Any specific thoughts to share? I wouldn't normally ask, but it's crickets here!

I mean, thanks, but I don't know I've been following you (in the general sense, too, not just the website mechanics sense) long enough to be considered one of those, yet. :D

"but it's crickets here!"
Yeah, curious, that. I'm not sure what's going on there; I actually wasn't intending to comment on that chapter originally, just letting my enjoyment of the chapter blend into that expressed by others, as it were, but, uh, then there wasn't any? Though I see my comment has two upvotes, so even if one was you, someone else was by. Eh. Anyway...

"Any specific thoughts to share? I wouldn't normally ask"
Trying to think of something. Hm.
I mean, probably obviously I'm curious about what's going on with the dream... hijacking? Whatever is going on there. But as that's kind of right near the heart of the story, I don't really see that not being looked into more by the characters as the story goes on.
...Hm. Ah! Okay, not on this chapter specifically, but I've been... I'm not sure if enjoying is quite the right word, but in some way liking that little comparison touches you/the protagonist have/has been making between Philadelphia and Fillydelphia, just highlighting the different cultures and their expressions in the built and lived environments. This bit from the first chapter, for instance:
"Fillydelphia rambled along the hills, tree-lined, clean and beautiful, but around every corner she still expected to see a homeless person—an oxymoron if she’d ever heard one—or rubbish and disordered graffiti on the walls. She eyed a public safety officer like he might threaten her, and sat as far as possible on the tram home from him."
There's a lot packed in there, from urban design to views on homelessness to policing to public transit to what it means when everyone just thinks its fine for children to ride said public transit on their own, and it is. And I don't recall even noticing before, but looking back for this comment, I see it specifies "disordered graffiti", which gives the impression that while no one's, say, spraying slurs on the walls, people might or might not be doing nicer street art.
(Oh, and branching off "disordered", I liked "discordant" as explained in the comments on the previous chapter.)
There have been other details like that, but I think that passage is the one that's most stuck out to me (but in a good way, and partly for how it didn't stick out in a bad way but instead seemed to fit naturally into the story) for some nicely done worldbuilding. Well, and, of course, Fillydelphia sounds nice.
(There might also be some aspect of that passage being of good things actually within our reach here. Like, to compare with the diner scene, there's obviously some comparison to be made with harmony between "races", but it's not like, say being of African descent grants the power of flight while all people from Southeast Asia have telekinesis; humans are all similar enough to each other that harmony between species on Equus has challenges and benefits we don't have here. And Equestria's well-controlled weather isn't something we have in the cards either, or its benevolent (if not infallible) immortal diarchs. But civic harmony, good public transit, housing for everyone, peace officers so reliably good that it's weird to even suspect there might be a problem, etc.? That doesn't require magic beyond what humans of our Earth do have access to.)

...Right, well, that may have been a bit rambly, sorry, but you did want some thoughts, so... there you go. :D

Nah actually this is exactly what I was hoping for, thank you! I appreciate engagement from my readers more than I do actual views. It allows a conversation - I vastly prefer that to drive-by interaction.

I'm glad you liked that passage specifically, especially since that dichotomy comes up later. Equestria will not be presented as paradisical, despite what some characters might think - it's functional and has benevolent intent, two things that seem paradisical because they are qualities our system aspires to but never seems to achieve. I'd compare it to a favorable European state. Aside from stuff like weather magic, Equestria is here presented like what we could have been instead of what we became.

I see it specifies "disordered graffiti", which gives the impression that while no one's, say, spraying slurs on the walls, people might or might not be doing nicer street art.
I am especially glad you touched on this. A lot of people equate street art with crime and violence, but street art can be expressive, beautiful, and part of a community, too. This is true in our world, and I felt like a real Equestrian city would express those same forces.

The blending continues to get even more intense, I see. I wonder what will happen first: Luna intervening, or something more overtly physical of each other crossing over? Or, heck, just plain medical complications. Lots of things seem to be coming to a head at once.

Waiting with bated breath for what happens next, Echoes.

Ohh, awesome. I'm up to Chapter 6 that's completed, will probably finish 7 later today, so rest assured I won't leave you hanging!

What are your thoughts so far?

This is quite an interesting story. I've read all sorts of fish-out-of-water scenarios on this site where Voltaire goes to Canterlot to become Celestia's advisor, or Rainbow Dash attends college in Florida, or a girl travels to Ponyville and back every day to farm gold to pay her real-life medical bills. But each of those involved the character being based in one place, traveling to what was clearly the other place.

This, however, is kind of like a mix between Your Name and Fight Club. Super interesting, realities are blending together, Owen's and Light Breeze's lives are getting harder for this poor soul to keep straight, and the cavalry better charge in soon because I need to see what Luna thinks of what's happening. Thank you for writing.

Thank you for commenting!
Your Name is an interesting choice of comparisons - it is kinda like that, isn't it?

I think you'll enjoy Luna's upcoming chapter (6). It will expand the universe a little bit and show some interesting complications.

I dunno, Sis. I mean - I helped you write it, and I'm not sure where it falls short of 'paradisiacal' in the strictest sense. At the very least, Equestria's 'dark side' doesn't come up in any of the chapters I've looked at so far!

Oh, good, and you're welcome. :)
And aye, I know authors generally do, and sometimes try to comment with that particularly in mind, but often I don't have many ideas for things to say and/or am in a hurry. Drive-by positive interaction is better than nothing in those circumstances, it seems to me.

"I'm glad you liked that passage specifically"
Oh, good. :)

"two things that seem paradisical because they are qualities our system aspires to but never seems to achieve"
Yeeeeah, I think I do recall thinking something along the lines of "Wow, that seems so fantastically nice! ...And, wow, what a low bar that thought implies".
Anyway, sounds like the dichotomy coming up later should be interesting. :)

"I am especially glad you touched on this."
Oh, glad I noticed and mention it for that reason too, then!

"A lot of people equate street art with crime and violence, but street art can be expressive, beautiful, and part of a community, too. This is true in our world, and I felt like a real Equestrian city would express those same forces."
Indeed. And I'd expect that most people not equating all of it with crime and violence would probably even further reduce the percentage of it that actually is; after all, if even very nice street art done in a place and way that hurts no one is technically a crime that could get one arrested, people already involved in crime may have weaker disincentives to doing it than people who aren't, and potentially more incentives to. If it's just whether any actual harm is being done that matters, the incentive structure seems likely to be different.
(Of course, in a lot of cases there'd likely still be arguments over whether a particular piece of art was beautiful or a horrid eyesore, but it's not like pieces of public art put in by property owners or on taxpayer funding are immune from that either. If anything, street art, if done by someone actually from the local area, could have a significantly higher chance of fitting prevailing local tastes.)

Hm. I wonder if some freight yards in this Equestria might specially equip a track at the edge of the yard with a fenced-off paved strip to walk on, safety notices for people walking or painting there, and information on which parts of cars it was important not to paint over for functional reasons?

On the new chapter:
"Jeremiah is a good boy, so he gets what he wants."
...What, you mean the Jeremiah you set to watch Owen, who you're now well aware (since he confessed to get Owen in trouble) instead let him go off with some of Those People? That, in your view, good boy? I mean, sure, he didn't try to call CPS on you, but if that's all it takes to be a good son to you, I have, well, more questions about your standards.
...And popping back up here after reaching "You called CPS on him last year."
So, yeah, what did he do to end up on the nicer side of the double standard?
[reads bit further on]
Eh. Maybe just time and doing better... for a presumably very particular sort of definition of "better".

"He knew he couldn't safely abuse the NyQuil forever, but stars help him if he wasn't tempted."
"When it worked, it didn’t matter if a teacher chewed him out later in class, or his father lightly slapped him awake after passing out on the couch before dinner"
Yep, these are definitely not pointing to a worrying but unsurprising trend.
Good thing he has good friends he's already agreed to talk to.

"Look who's a sleepy little horse horse."
Was the doubled "horse" deliberate for some reason?

I do also note that Owen's parents are now being referred to by him/the narration as "May" and "Frank".

"They won’t let him say a damned thing out of line there. Just the sort of thing you need, not one of those places where they brainwash you."
...Er... I mean, I guess those indeed aren't quite the same thing, but... I feel that those two statements may still have a bit of a conflict of spirit?

"and begin planning how to stay awake forever"
And fortunately, Light Breeze has both friends and family who care about her and are apt to notice that something appears to be quite not okay, then work on helping.

Heh. Well, I suppose we'll see...

I'm already bracing for a little heartache, but I'm really looking forward to this.

Oh, oh no... I'm both looking forward to, and dreading, this next chapter...

Very nice thoughts, Reese! Thank you very much.

I like that idea of safely set aside artistic space, it's very cute.

And yes that double horse was a typo. I'll fix it.

As for that contradiction?

It's a contradiction. Owen's parents are not very consistent.

You get a like because your sunset icon is too precious for words.

You're welcome. :)

Oh, thanks! Aye, rolling stock seems to be popular for graffiti, and while I expect some of that is the "look at me doing some dangerous and illegal, aren't I impressive" aspect, there is also the fact that graffiti on a wall is only going to be seen by people seeing that wall, while a freight car might be seen all across a continent. With good art and a more positive cultural view, I can see it being some positive publicity for the railroads, and I imagine that particularly good at and the associated cars might even get famous in certain circles. On the other hoof, a busy railyard is really not somewhere you want random people just wandering in, out, and about. In our modern American, the set aside space would likely still have crowds of salivating lawyers outside, but I think it could be actually safe enough provided people behave themselves.

Ah, thanks; I wasn't sure if you were doing something clever with the phrasing there I wasn't getting.

No, really? Color me shocked.

We could all benefit from dreaming about being colorful horses, in my opinion.

He's not wrong.

"Oh, yeah? Do real men look at furry porn on their phones? Are you the little stag or the big one?"

Holy crap, Owen, I understand you're fed up with your human family, but you don't have to throw around tactical nukes.

Just the sort of thing you need, not one of those places where they brainwash you.

For those keeping track at home, Liberty University was founded in part by Jerry Falwell.

He’s in AP classes, and he has a decent chance of getting a scholarship if he doesn’t drink himself into addiction, something you don’t seem inclined to put any brakes on.

:twilightoops: Oh, this will not end well.

Yeaaaah, deep crap doesn't begin to describe it. You've crafted an incredible narrative thus far, Ether. Eagerly looking forward to more. I can only imagine how Luna's going to react to this one.

Owen is getting increasingly over this shit, as you can see! Hopefully that won't come back to bite them too badly.

Gaaaaah. I can't watch. Poor kid doesn't deserve this...

“Sorry, what was that, uhm, fifth one? A mito-what?”
A blush crept up her ears as her wings snapped shut. “I’m sorry, sir. I meant the pneuma. The part where Harmony breathes magic into the cell.”

Magic, also known as adenosine trithaumate. :raritywink:

Biochemistry jokes aside, this is going to be rough. I can't help but feel like the Luna chapter will be a discretion shot as much as an update on the dream warden. We'll see what happens when it happens, but I can't imagine it'll go very well.

"she concentrated on drifting off again by chewing"
"she concentrated on not drifting off again by chewing"?

"or as much as them as she could with"
"or as much of them as she could with"?

Fortunately, I expect they also love her too much to just say "Ah, got her to sleep. Right, well, this is clearly fine now, nothing more we need to do here."
I suspect that some activities of Luna in the next chapter may be related to that...

Well, this is gonna be interesting. I do like how you’re kind of showing Owen/Light’s age with the “if I don’t go to sleep, I’ll never go back” logic.

Yeah :c
They're having a rough time!

Hehehe nice.

You'll see! I'll probably throw that one up midweek.

Good catches!

Yeah, her parents aren't going to take this lying down. Certainly, they aren't going to let her go without sleeping again.

Ha ha yeah - it was a correct assumption, but an effectively impossible goal with the tools they had.

Thanks. :)

Aye, though fortunately I don't expect the aid'll stop there.

Holy Toledo. This is an idea I've never seen before, and it. Is. Awesome.

Horsing. Heh.

When I got onto fimfiction today I was not expecting a new story from you Ether!
I feel like Christmas came early :-)

It did! It's only October! Merry Christmas, one and all!

She frowned suddenly, her tail twitching back and forth as a wave of nausea raced through her.

:pinkiegasp: Loonie Sense!

To speak of the space between worlds requires words that have not and never shall be invented.

The Blind Eternities are, by nature, indescribable to those accustomed to a four-dimensional existence. Most map their own character and biases on it just so their minds have something to process. In Luna's case, that appears to mean a realm of infinite moonlight.

Clothing draped a form of smooth skin, recently shaved, and she was relieved to find it possessed four limbs and lungs.

Love this. Really drives home the vast potential of the multiverse in all its horrible splendor.

Oh boy. Luna's on the warpath. Philly won't know what hit it. This will definitely prove interesting.

I absolutely believe this possession by higher powers is part of a real belief system, and also that it's called Horsing, but the way you use it in this context leaves me with a host of narrative questions.

  • Are there any gods in this world that (pony) Luna might encounter in her travels?
  • If there are any, why have they neglected this world so?
  • If there aren't any, is the pagan belief system largely informed by extra-reality visits like she's currently doing?
  • Is Luna herself considered a god by her subjects in this AU, or is she simply revered as an immortal sorceress princess?
  • As Princess Luna learns more about human Luna's world and beliefs, will she respect those beliefs given that this world has no gods of its own (or that it does but they have been so lax in their duties to be unworthy of worship), or will she dismiss them as nothing more than a convenience that gives her purchase to search Philadelphia for her lost dreamer?

In all the stories I've read where humans and ponies co-exist, I've never seen the two worlds connected in this way. As I said before, this is an amazing idea, and I look forward to seeing where and how far you take it.

Ha ha yeah, there are certainly variations.

Some of those questions are direct spoilers, but I'll pick out a couple:

Is Luna herself considered a god by her subjects in this AU, or is she simply revered as an immortal sorceress princess?

In the context of this AU, ponies do not use the concept of god to distinguish themselves from alicorns. They are understood as being closer to divine truths, but everypony has a relationship to it in some fashion that doesn't run through a princess. The word "god" here is sufficiently similar to that of "princess" for Luna in that a princess is a first among equals, as it were. Revered for their wisdom, power, and connection to the universe, but not objects of worship. Ponies, at least in this AU, don't have a religion, but a learned appreciation for the divine.
The relationship between her and Whisper Lark is pretty emblematic of this - Whisper honors her, but Luna is more like a respected elder she cares for than a goddess she serves.

As Princess Luna learns more about human Luna's world and beliefs, will she respect those beliefs given that this world has no gods of its own (or that it does but they have been so lax in their duties to be unworthy of worship), or will she dismiss them as nothing more than a convenience that gives her purchase to search Philadelphia for her lost dreamer?

Luna has a strong moral code which is pretty integral to her sense of self. We've already seen what happens when she abandons it! Not just to that, either, but magic isn't a completely neutral thing (as we will get into later.)

She will respect positions that do not fundamentally contradict her principles, which include Honesty, which would include not abusing ignorance. She won't necessarily correct people all the time, but she won't rely on falsehood - like when Moira asks about Endymion or uses the name Selene. As it happens, she was called Selene, and she really did have a lover named Endymion, but, while it may have benefitted her to simply let people think that she's just like the Selene of legend to gain their trust, she set the record straight because it violated her integrity to do otherwise.

Put more simply, Luna isn't willing to abandon her principles for convenience in her activities, no. Friendship is magic, after all, and you can't make friends with a basis of lies!

I can say that the moon thing is not just her perception. The story is called The Moon Has Two Faces, after all~
Of course, I don't say that always holds true for every world, but I'm keeping my gaze firmly on the two that have familiar laws and are relevant!

"as close an office like sister’s as she had"
"as close to an office like sister’s as she had"?
And possibly also "sister" should be capitalized there?

Also, interesting worldbuilding going on here, by the way, I think. :)
Though I do wonder when Luna moved to this castle. I don't think, as far as I'm remembering, we actually know how much time has passed since the show's end... Luna wasn't around when Light Breeze's father was her age, looking back, which puts some level of boundary on it, but there's still uncertainty.

...Oh. Huh. It looks like we might not be post-show at all, actually. I'd been thinking Twilight was already in power and the Sisters retired, but it looks like Luna might be living at this castle not because of that but because she hasn't reintegrated into Celestia's government yet.

"has been mistreated in every way, mark me"
"has been mistreated in any way, mark me"?

"Moira asked with the sort of caution a mare might approach a ravenous lioness."
"Moira asked with the sort of caution a mare might approach a ravenous lioness with."?

Well, that certainly wasn't what in particular I expected, but I enjoyed it and found it interesting. :)
Thank you for writing!

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