• Published 17th Mar 2015
  • 2,594 Views, 112 Comments

Riverdream at Sunset: a Manuscript - GroaningGreyAgony

Lord Dunsany has a curious adventure in the Lands of Dream, in a realm where beasts can talk and the sun rides low in the sky.

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By request, I have translated some of the Greek-derived terms used in the story. They are in order of their appearance. Note that some names in the story have no translation, and thus are not listed here.

Eocharis - Dawn’s Grace

Hespericles - Evening’s Glory

Ippoli - Horse town

Pterippi - The winged horses

Monokeri - The one-horns

Khthonoi - The folk of the land

Hephaesta - Feminisation of Hephaestus, Smith of the Gods.

Mageía - Magic

Punda-Miliamji (Swahili) - Zebra town

Tarassoi - Those who flutter

Nephelia - Cloud, with a feminine ending. In mythology, Nephelia was the name of a cloud nymph.

Acrokastra - High castle

And Hippocratic stems from the name Hippocrates, literally horsepower.

Comments ( 69 )

A splendid story.

Really nicely done, and very Dunsanian, so congratulations. (I'm not sure if I'm projecting, but I even thought there was a bit of My Talks with Dean Spanley in there, what with using alcohol to coax characters into saying things they'd rather pretend ignorance of.)

I confess, the bit toward the beginning with Celestia's story was my favorite part.

Eocharis - Dawn’s Grace
Hespericles - Evening’s Glory

Dawn & Evening, huh?

...I ship them already! :pinkiecrazy:

Y'know... SOMETHING tells me there's an unpublished chapter called "Notes" :trollestia:

Wonderful story! I think you've captured Dunsanay's voice very well, indeed. The back-story that gives Celestia's attention an ominous aspect was really well done and very much in the tone of Dunsanay's tales.

...until Hespericles gave me what I suppose might be called his Hippocratic oath...

Ouch! :rainbowlaugh:

Please write more when you have the time!

Just FYI, Dean Spanley was made into a movie a while ago and is available on Netfilix. Very enjoyable!

5748503 I just wanted to write this comment to blame you, quite a lot later, for the dust that mysteriously appeared in my eyes upon reading your story. You bastard.

Thanks to everyone for the many positive comments! It'll take me a while to respond to them all.

I would take this time to heap praise upon you, but I'm afraid my gifts of words are not well-disposed to saying "you're amazing " more than a few ways. Just sort of assume I said it a thousand times.

Argh. I did something silly, and thereby my authorial first comment, in which I put certain notes that would have interfered with story immersion, got deleted. Here's what it was:

So here's my Dunsanian pastiche. It was either this or "The Distressing Tale of Rarity the Jeweller."

I have been so bold as to refer to the following admirable stories by the following admirable authors:

The Midnight Run, by Midnightshadow.

Lost Cities, by Cold in Gardez.

The background of the cover image is from CosmicUnicorn's Sunrise in Equestria.

Actually, that's one of the few books by Dunsany that I haven't read yet (or if I did, it's been so long that its memory has been effaced). Can you tell me to what you were referring?

Thank you for your praise! And, while wonder and knowledge may not be exclusive, they are often uncomfortable bedfellows.

Thank you for your kind words, your blessing for the Midnight Run reference, and your signal boost. Thanks to people like you, there is justice even outside the feature box. :twilightsmile:

High praise indeed! Thank you very much!


I can't help being sciencey. I didn't wanna kill anyone's magic dreams.

When you're tearing apart the very stars in the heavens, please reserve one for the poets. It can be an M class if that's all you can spare; we can work with a red sun. Oh, and please don't taunt the Oobleck.

I had wondered whether to hang a Sad tag on this story. I think I was right to leave it off, but only just.

I suppose I'd better get started, then. :twilightsmile: Seriously, thank you!

And thanks to each of you!

Dunsany used the plying-reluctant-raconteur-with-alcohol motif in more than one story, IIRC. Of course, Jorkens used the reverse side of it to his advantage.
The origin of Celestia is the oldest section of this story and was written over two years ago. It's been polished a fair bit since then. Thank you!

See above comment; any possible sequel to this story would lie very far in the future. But thank you very much for your praise!

[strokes beard meditatively]


small brown creatures that chittered at him...

Okay... I got the Midnight Run reference... I assume this is the reference to the other fic?

Other authors have written of the Lands of Dream after Dunsany; H.P. Lovecraft was one. This paragraph contains extra-Dunsanian references, but not to FIMFiction.
The Pegasus city of Derecho was a reference to Lost Cities.

a foul wine-colored ooze

I feel this is a Smooze reference, somehow...

It definitely isn't Homer's wine-dark sea. :twilightsmile:

Does that mean Hespericles was trying to grow gems with the book?

No. There are many parts of this story that are meant to be poetry and not puzzles, but you should be able to figure out what Hespericles was really doing with that book. The Glossary may help a bit but it's not necessary.

I gently wakened my little relative of Pegasus, and she yawned, belched and stretched in an artless manner.

She's one of Rainbow Dash's ancestors, no doubt about that.

Is that your final answer?

I wonder what she gave him to help him in his writings...

This is answered in the Afterword, but you probably hadn't read it yet when you posted that comment.

5750887 I'm always the guy who says we need to pass environmental laws so nobody pulls anything funny with the stars. The universe is the universe, not just our raw material.


Thank you for your praise!

There was a time when humans, confronted with the night, could do little more than try to find the shapes of familiar objects in the scattered stars, and create stories about these objects. As we learn more about the night and our place in it, these concepts and fantasies get discarded or reduced to tags shorn of their prior meaning, but there is still a pang involved in letting them go. Yet we cannot see very far without looking beyond them.

"A man is a small thing and the night very large and full of wonders."
--Lord Dunsany, The Laughter of the Gods

You're very welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

And I'm glad you got that joke. :twilightsmile:

The other stories I have going now are very unlike this one in tone, and I don't think that I could make a sequel to this story. Perhaps I could send Shandon Silverlock to Equestria instead...?

I shall supply the verbiage that you lack. Thank you, thank you. :twilightblush:

I am much afraid that life is its own raw material. It's certainly true of literature.

And likewise, please assume a thousand thanks.

Reading this story, was like Reading a 50-60 year old book that you can find in the deepest part of a library, the way you wrote it gave me this massive nostalgic feeling.

Thank you so much for Writing this fic.

Holy carp! A Silverlock for MLP Fanfic? That would be a real challenge, but insanely wonderful. (I was quite tickled by the Lost Cities reference.)

Thank you for your kind words! They are all much appreciated.

Take heart; it could have been Mississippoli.

Sadly, I can't commit to any such thing; it was just a suggestion. If you think you could take the idea anywhere, feel free. (I'm still trying to discover if the Commonwealth is on this map. Equestria just might be #236.)

Truly a delightful read. Thanks!

If what I think grew from that book being planted is correct, I wonder if Tirek's destruction of Twilight's tree may lead to a whole library grove springing up in Ponyville?

An amusing thought! One can imagine the citizens of Ponyville laboring to extract logographical saplings from inconvenient places around town, or Twilight asking for Applejack's assistance with bookbucking. But perhaps it's best to say that only a magic book that has been prepared in a special way can take root and grow in that manner. Congrats on being the first to figure it out (or at least to state it here)!

Thoroughly enjoyed.

Small but important hint for you: when replying to comments in your story, always go into the chapter the comment was made in, and reply to it there. Otherwise, your reply ends up on the last chapter, and not on the chapter the comment was made on.

See, one notable effect of posting your reply in a different chapter than the comment you reply on, is that the user you reply to doesn't get a reply notification. It's a bug in fimfiction :trixieshiftright:

And yes, this means that half of the people you replied to in these comments never saw your replies :unsuresweetie:


No. There are many parts of this story that are meant to be poetry and not puzzles, but you should be able to figure out what Hespericles was really doing with that book. The Glossary may help a bit but it's not necessary.


Thorno wrote:
If what I think grew from that book being planted is correct, I wonder if Tirek's destruction of Twilight's tree may lead to a whole library grove springing up in Ponyville?

Ohh. I get it now. Heh. You just meant the "Ippoli" thing with the "Glossary may help a bit"? I got that part right away, actually. I only needed the barest of skimmed Greek knowledge to figure that one out :rainbowlaugh:

You had me sold at Lord Dunsany and did not disappoint in the slightest.

Author Interviewer

Those who flutter

Oh snap.

The others I could more or less figure out, but that one puzzled me and now I feel...

Well, it doesn't matter. This is a jewel among stories on this site.

Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

You should feel good. You're one of the people for which this story was meant. :twilightsmile: Thank you very much for your praise!

And you're another one. Thank you!

Author Interviewer

I'm not sure how to take that. :O


Please take it as a compliment!

At bottom, I do write stories to please myself. Since I am an old-school writer with odd tastes, this often means that I am out of step with most of the readers of this site. But I do follow Joel Hodgson's advice to not worry about who will get something; the right people will get it.

You and the other commenters here, and the silent upvoters, are all the right people. I thank you.

Author Interviewer

Well in that case, I thank you. :D

This is one of the best things I have thus far read on FimFiction. That such art could be inspired by a cartoon pony show illustrates the best qualities of this fandom. Bravo, Sir!

I have no words. If I ever write something half as good as this, I'll die a happy man.

Thank you very much for your praise!

Please be happy in any event; I like your works as well. :twilightsmile:

I...wow. Just wow

I have no words. If I ever write something half as good as this, I'll die a happy man

What he said. This was beautifully done.

And thanks to you as well!

gotta second this. no way to put my feelings any better


A talking cat appears in all three of Dunsany's stories about A Shop in Go-By Street. Angry wizards prowl the sidewalks of London, as in "A Narrow Escape," and foxhunters stumble upon stately homes full of ghosts, as in "Thirteen at Table."

You should read these, Bad Horse: they both remind me of stories you might write, albeit in different moods.

Dunsany followed, so far as I can tell, the King James Bible when writing archaic speech. This is especially remarked in the critical introduction to my copy of The Gods of Pegana. He did not seem to have much interest in Shakespeare. If GGA were writing a Shakepearian pastiche then using the King James Bible as a guide would be a mistake. But as it's a Dunsanian pastiche it is correct. The point of parody (even affectionate parody) is to reproduce the original's voice even and especially unto its flaws.


A secret passage to a fantasy land is usually a smallish thing, something you can imagine could be concealed by some minor glamour. The Thames near London is a huge freaking river. For it to gain a fork would require demolishing vast areas of London.

But that's the point. What would normally be a tributary well marked for hundreds of years and probably developed out of existence by Dunsany's time appears as a hiccup of topography that exists only for those who know to look for it--the very definition of a "jealous phenomenon" which is, after all, another term for magic.

Come on, do you think the building that housed the Bureau d'Echange de Maux, let alone its sudden disappearance, could have gone unremarked by the authorities of the City of Paris?

Buildings don't appear and disappear, and rivers don't sprout new branches, without general public notice unless something extraordinary is involved. Such as magic. Here the magic is revealed in the simple extraordinariness of the thing itself without the need for the author to explicitly say "this is magic."

Which is characteristic of magical realism, which, pace Borges, Dunsany can lay a prior claim to having invented.

(But by the same token Bram Stoker trumps him, and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu trumps him, and arguably Bulwer-Lytton trumps them all.)

truly a great piece.

The most incredible part of the execution of this story to me is that it manages to be a tribute to the writing style of the subject without being pretentious or overdone. It's truly a love letter to his work.

6033659, 6068676
Thank you very much!

Thank you. I think you've nailed it. I've admired the author since childhood.

Thank you for coming to my defense during my protracted absence. :twilightsmile:

6183438 But of course! Normally I hate "HiE" fics, but this one is a rare exception that was genuinely pleasing to read. I may just check out some of Dunsany's works as a result.

Also, you quoted Joel Hodgson in one of the other comments. I believe we may be kindred spirits.

I have another story in moderation right now that also has a human in it, though it's not strictly a HiE. I'll be interested to know what you think of it.

Perhaps we are. MST3K is a good starting point. :twilightsmile:

6185419 As I have you on my watch list, I will see it when it's ready for the public!

This is wonderful. I know I missed a few references, and probably some other things (eg what Thorno says here) but it was still fantastic. Take a highly unpromising combination of genre tags, season with a flowery Victorian writing style and bake base it on the works of someone I've never read. What's that a recipe for? In this case, enchantment.

I'm distinctly not a fan of Human-tagged stories. Of all those I've read, I've only really loved Lucky Dreams' In the Place the Wild Horses Sleep... until I read Riverdream. They're very different stories, but the thing they have in common is that they weave straw into gold. I'm often impressed by what writers here can do. I'm not often in awe. But now? Now I am. You've done something extraordinary here. Bravo.

One question before I go, regarding this bit:

small brown creatures that chittered at him...

You've said that this is a nod to a source other than Dunsany... so might I ask what that is?

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