• Published 14th Feb 2012
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Regina et Equi Nox - NejinOniwa

Luna's nightmare troubles end up sending multiple princesses to places they definitely shouldn't b

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Ch4: Vigilemus Me Ante Tu Ire-Ire

Chapter 4 – Vigilemus Me Ante Tu Ire-Ire

ᛗᛚᛈ ᛒᛖᛚᚩᛝᛋ ᛏᚩ ᚻᚨᛋᛒᚱᚩ ᛫ ᚨᛋᛋᛁᛏᛁ ᛋᚻᚨᚱᛗᛋ ᛒᛖᛚᚩᛝᛋ ᛏᚩ ᛖᚱᛁᚳ ᚠᛚᛁᚾᛏ ᛫ ᚾᚩᚱᛋᛖ ᛒᛖᛚᚩᛝᛋ ᛏᚩ ᚡᛁᚳᛁᛝᛋ ᛚᛁᚳᛖ ᛗᛖ

Gustav just about managed to keep his mouth from hanging wide open. He himself was a devout Lutheran – champion of the protestant cause and all that – but he had never exactly had much doubt that the first angel he would see would be the one guarding the gates to heaven. Or the ones bringing him there. However God had set it all up, seeing one in his life wasn't something he'd been expecting.

Now, one was standing right before him, and was decidedly displeased with him. Understandable, since he'd just unleashed the mother of all angry outbursts at her. A great example of getting stuck in the muck on my part, the king mused.
There was another part to all of this, however. One that did not, in any way, fit into the puzzle his mind was trying to solve.
The angel had, when she was still that horse-thing, cried out in response to his final insult. Initially he had, of course, been overtaken by the mere fact that the Horse Could Talk, and then gotten quite busy with the fact that the horse had stopped Being A Horse and started Being An Angel. Now, he'd had a few more moments to think, and the words the horse had said were starting to decipher themselves in his mind.
Best they could, at least. You, your something. He couldn't quite put his finger on the last word, but he didn't really need to. Whatever it had been, he damn well knew his own bloody language well enough to recognize it being spoken – and enough to at least recognize its ancestral tongues.

Which was the part that made absolutely no sense at all. Why in heaven's name would an angel speak in Old Norse? The vikings were bloody pagans!

That was not what he said out loud, however. He turned to Stearns. Then, reconsidering things a bit, he turned to lady Platzer, who finally had stopped sobbing. Likely in sheer shock of what she was seeing, of course, but it didn't really matter. “Lady Platzer, I want prince Ulrik here. Now.” His tone was, perhaps, a bit harsh, but he didn't really give a damn anymore. His daughter was missing and this angel-horse-viking-thing was the only clue he had to this whole damn debacle. Giving the matter a few more thoughts, he added the little failsafe. “And make sure – make bloody well sure! – he brings the Norwegian, that Norddahl fellow, with him. I need a god-damned translator.”

The tongues of olden times were long dead, of course. That's why they were 'tongues of olden times' in the first place. However, he was quite sure that Ulrik's henchman had done considerable dabbling in the myths and languages of the Scandinavians of old. If nothing else, the – undoubtedly fake – name was a dead ringer. I mean, honestly speaking, why else would he walk around calling himself “Baldur”? Aside from the obvious case of him being a complete lunatic, that is.

The complete lunatic in question had, however, engineered most of the maneuver – and weaponry – that had let the Danes cripple the ironclad Monitor and completely destroy one of its timberclad escorts, the Ajax, during the battle of Copenhagen. He was the local 'tech wiz', as the Americans called it. Eddie Cantrell, the Count of Wismar, had on several occasions half-praised half-mourned his intellect. In his own peculiar way.

So Gustav Adolf had a feeling, and he trusted his instincts very, very much. After all, they had made him the most powerful monarch in all of Europe. Why would they fail him now?
He tried to disregard his doubts as much as possible as Caroline swiftly exited the chamber, and he turned his eyes back to the midnight-blue angel. “Any thoughts, prime minister?” he said to Stearns. A few moments of silence later, the man replied. “Not really, your Majesty.” Gustav sighed heavily, and fought hard to suppress the urge to start pacing. “But the phrase 'catch a royal hell' comes to mind.”

The king let out a loud groan, and started pacing.


“I don't want to set the woooooorld ooooon fire...”

In what was undoubtedly the most cramped, overheated chamber of the entire palace, the royal gramophone was spinning happily on its little pedestal. Spinning happily and, as was the way of gramophones, playing music.

“I just want to staaaaart... a flame in your heaaaaaaaart...”

In prince Ulrik's opinion, extremely boring music. As was the way of gramophones. Apparently, the mediums that stored the music were different from the more advanced “cassette” or “compact disc” players, but the technologies that those formats used were impossible to replicate with the resources available to the Danish crown. Or those of the Union, for that matter. And I rather doubt the USE is any different.

So, a gramophone it was. He had built it himself – with some help from Baldur, of course, but that was true with just about anything he did. When Eddie, his very good friend and likewise brand new brother-in-law, had seen it he'd merrily arranged for a few vinyls to be sent to Copenhagen.
Unfortunately for him, the only recordings available in the format used by his reinvention were, well, old. In the Americans' perspective, at least. The fact that this meant they were from a mere 320 or so years in the future rather than 370 reflected the rather jaded view on the subject of time and age people had these days. In any case, this made it practically impossible to get anything other than music that was...
Well. He had to admit, there was some level of charm to it. The calm, simple tunes, the slightly buzzy sound to the recording, the lyrics that quite often referenced the horrors of war versus the wonders of love and peace. That was just as relevant now as it had been then, in the time of the infamous Second World War.
Regardless, the point stood firm. As useful as the records had been in helping him calibrate the machine to ensure proper “play back” and “compatibility”, as the terms were called, the only purpose they served at the moment was making him sleepy and grumpy.

Which was not, as one might understand, the best way to be when constructing the propulsion system of a submarine. From the inside.

He wiped the sweat off his brow with his napkin, idly shuffling it back into his pocket. Why am I even doing this? There are any number of things I could do instead, and not too few of those that I would much rather prefer over this...labor. By Christ, just about anything would do!
Ten minutes later he was learning two lessons the hard way: the old fashioned 'Thou shalt not blaspheme', coupled together with the more modern 'Be careful what you wish for'. With the possible addition of 'Baldur finds you, not the other way around'.

“What was it you needed me for again?” Baldur wore an incredulous look on his face as they were trotting down the hallways at a brisk pace. Ulrik just shook his head, not having understood the message too well himself. With lady Platzer having run off to have an intense counseling session (presumably with herself, because no other shrink was available) there wasn't exactly anyone else around to give them the correct answer.
“I think they needed you to translate something. The rest, I have no idea. The countess is normally a very sober woman, but now... Absolutely, ah, flipped. Which only leads me to assume whatever has happened must be of a most horrible and extraordinary nature; or alternately, that Caroline is practicing witchcraft, taking drugs, or both. I'm not sure which one of these are least far-fetched and silly, so I'm not even going to make a guess.”

When they arrived at Kristina's chambers, Ulrik was in a quite suspicious mood. The sight that met them there didn't make it much better – ten USE marines were posted outside the door in a tight perimeter, all of them with up-time shotguns or pistols in their hands. While the small space they were compressed into made it look rather silly, it still gave a clear message; something big had happened. In my betrothed’s bedroom. A tight knot formed in his stomach. If something had happened to Kristina, it could threaten the whole Vasa dynasty; and by extension, the entire empire that Gustav had built up. Now, Denmark was included in that realm as well. Not to mention, he had actually managed to become quite fond of the girl.
Ulrik straightened his back and marched up to the soldiers, who saluted him and cleared the way. “Go on in, your highness, mister Norddahl. His Majesty is expecting you.” The commander gave him a comradely pat on his shoulder – and a respectful nod to Baldur – as he opened the door and let them in.

And to think that Americans and their odd behavior used to be counted among the strangest things in the world, Ulrik thought a few moments after the door closed on them.

A few confused minutes later, they finally got to the matter they came for; which of course only served to make things even more complicated. “She does what!?” Ulrik was unsure if he should burst our crying, laughing or savage his royal uncle's behind something fierce with his feet. His first thought was: This must be the worst joke in history. And I'm the butt of it. After that: God is an arse, and he has no sense of humor whatsoever. Finally: Fucking submarines in a basement!

While he was busy blaspheming inside his head, the Prime Minister took over the explaining. “As his majesty said, she speaks in Old Norse. As far as he can tell. Which we need mister Norddahl here to translate for us. And,” he continued, gesturing to Baldur, “since nobody ever knows where to find him – no disrespect of course – and since it would be sort of rude not to let you in on what has happened with Kristina, we brought you both here. Yes, I am aware of how stupid this situation is. No, that doesn't make it any less important, because we're still missing a princess. Yes, she can fly with those wings, despite the physical impossibility of it. No, the sparkles aren't a hallucination. Or anything else for that matter. No- look, can you sit down for a minute so we can get to business, your highness? We've spent enough time being generally confused today already. Please, Ulrik?”

The prince of Denmark sighed in resignation, before sitting down on the bed beside the angel. He looked her in the eyes – she was giving him a very skeptical look – and shook his head. I must find Kristina. He shook himself a bit, and rose again. “Let's get on with it,” he said resolutely. “Baldur, if you would.”


Luna had spent the last half hour or so in a quite contemplative state. The lamenting female had rushed off somewhere after the Prince had given her a few orders. Since then, a cluster of guards had arrived (bringing a couple of chairs with them) and taken post outside the door, and the Prince and his advisor had nurtured a very awkward silence between each other. This had left her without anything to disturb her thoughts; and so, she had got a lot of things done.
A lot of wild mass guesses, that was.

What she had observed, however, was that the two males seemed to have some sort of reverence for her. This held true with the recent arrivals as well. Their first reactions upon entering had been wide-faced looks of awe, that then had turned over into frustrated confusion. Her best guess had to do with the wings. She had stretched them a bit and taken a few flaps some minutes ago; this had enticed a great amount of surprised shouting and intense whispering between the Prince and his advisor.

Suddenly the slimmer of the newcomers sat down right beside her. He was quite obviously a noble, from the way he dressed. She raised an eyebrow at him, not sure what to make of the gesture. His eyes were prying, searching for something in hers – as if he was looking for something that should be there, but wasn't. Then, just as abruptly he rose again, and spoke a few words. Luna gave a tired sigh, leaning backwards. I really hope they are not intending to keep this up any-
“My lady.”
Her ears perked up. I understood that! The pronunciation was a bit off, but it was North Tae, no doubt. She flapped her wings in excitement, propelling her into the air briefly. A bit unsightly perhaps, but in her defense things had been very boring for some time now. The man who had spoken was the tall newcomer, who was undoubtedly the most plainly dressed in the room. Rugged, even. But who is he? A servant? An actual translator? Another noble, despite the looks?
Luna took a few moments to – literally – get back on the ground, before eying the man carefully. She took care, this time, to keep the Voice off while speaking. “State thy name, clan and liege, speaker.”

There was some intense back-and-forth between the speaker and the Prince; the advisor said a few words in the exchange, but not many. The slim noble was still just staring intensely at her, as if that would tell him something. Then the speaker turned back to face her. “I am Baldur, of clan Norddahl. My liege is Ulrik, jofur of Danemarkriki.” As he gestured to the slim noble, Luna cursed the dragons and their off-kilter hierarchies. She was fairly certain jofur was a title of some sort, but whatever it meant had no equivalent in dragon society.
Then she shook her head. What am I thinking? I am actually conversing with these beings, by some stroke of good luck. She regarded the speaker – Baldur – with some curiosity. First things first, as they say. “We are Måána, crown of Éykhaestir-reyka, ruler of the night and the moon.” She had said that line to just about every dragon she'd met for over a thousand years, so it had stuck. The rest of her vocabulary was a bit rusty, though, so she stayed to the basics. “How come thou speak the tongue of the Second Dragonflight? Where is this place, Baldur?”

Despite his obvious efforts to keep his cool, equal amounts shock and awe competed with disbelief in the speaker's eyes. He seemed to be concerned about something different as well, however. “Dra...dre..drag-un? Drag-un-fliet? I don't understand this word.”
Luna facehoofed briefly – though it wasn't a proper facehoof since she didn't have hooves anymore, she was fairly certain it would translate nonetheless – and gave Baldur an irritated look, before she started gesturing with her forelegs. “Oh come now. Great, scaled lizards with wings that fly around and spew fire and such. Surely, thou must know of them!”
Baldur's eyes went wide in disbelief, and after a few swift words to the others, they followed suit. Luna rolled her eyes. This was going to be a tiresome conversation.


Celestia had started exploring her sister's astral body, in order to get a better idea of how to navigate herself out. She had tried to avoid breaking into obviously private memories and such, but some things – like the few memories her sister retained from her possession by Nightmare Moon – had been impossible to avoid. Literally, in fact. They had seemed to sense her presence when she came close, and then proceeded to follow her like homing projectiles, until the bubble-like objects containing them finally caught up and forced their way into her head. The process itself had been quite unnerving, but the memories...

Horrified, she gazed on the broken pieces of the Epihruss coastline. The peaks of its once majestic mountains had been torn off and lay smashed against the ground, the earth gaping dark where they had been used as sledgehammers against her enemies. Her eyes peered – she peered with them – and she could see the pools of red mixed in with the soil and broken marble. Thessaponiki. Algothens. Conkanterlople. Every city owing allegiance to Celestia's Throne in Semper Liberum – crushed like flowers under a minotaur's cloven foot. Far off in the distance, the burning ruins of Cavalarthage, looted and raided by her minions. Not only Equestria, the land itself was in upheaval, seas and deserts switching places in confusion as the earth roiled and quaked.
“I...did this...”
The tears formed like burning tongs gripping her eyes, but they never fell. The helmet absorbed them, and her cackling laughter soon overtook everything she could hear or see.

They lay like open wounds inside Celestia's head, throbbing and unleashing a torrent of horrifying visions and mad, hateful ravings every time she lost focus. So, she forged ahead, thinking as little as possible of the things she had seen.

Time was impossible to discern, but eventually she came to a barrier of sorts. A sheet of glass, softly flowing downward like a waterfall in slow-motion, blocked her path. She put a hoof to it, and she felt it slowly go through – but to her eyes, it was simply disappearing. This must lead somewhere else, then. She felt a sliver of hope to grasp at; without a single second of thought, she thrust her body through the barrier.

The next moment, she was falling.


Ulrik was tapping his foot rhythmically – he had somehow managed to get the music from the gramophone stuck in his head, and it was playing over and over again to his mind's ear. It actually helped, in a way. The distraction took away some of the nervousness the situation brought on him. Taking a look around the room, however, he could easily find comfort in that he wasn't the most overtly nervous person present. Gustav was gripping the armrests of his chair so hard his knuckles were turning white, just to keep himself from pacing; Baldur, who was face-to-face with their angelic newcomer, was showing all of his usual discreet signs of a, “poker face”, about to break. Stearns didn't seem too fazed – come to think of it, he never did – but that was more or less expectable. For one, he didn't have any personal stake in the incident; no daughter, fiancé or whatever Baldur termed his rather odd relation to the princess. Additionally, he was most likely the best politician in the world, and an old prize-fighter of sorts. Naturally, his skills at concealing his feelings would be far better than most.

After what seemed like an awfully long exchange, Baldur finally turned around to face the rest of them again. Immediately, Gustav popped out of his chair. “Well? Where is my daughter?”
Stearns let out a quiet sigh at this, and Ulrik's cheeks heated slightly when he realized he had been about to ask the exact same thing. Of course he won't have an answer for it yet, you hotheaded nilwit. Stop being so bloody restless for one minute, would you? He shook his head, before looking up at his old companion. “Tell us what you've learned, Baldur. Who is she?”
Baldur shot a glance to the king, before facing Ulrik. “Her name is Måna. She says she 'owns the domains of night and moon', and the crown of someplace that I think translates into something like 'horse-nation'.” Stearns sighed again, loudly this time, muttering something about 'points to griffin door', whatever that was. Baldur threw him an annoyed look before continuing. “She also would like to ask us where she is, and – I'm not sure about this part, because even coming from an angel speaking Old Norse this translation seems far-fetched – why I am speaking the language of dragons.”

The room was silent for a few moments, before Stearns started chuckling. Thoroughly. Seconds later it evolved to a full-body laughter, and Ulrik could only brace himself for the outburst inevitably coming from the king as his face grew redder and redder.
“ENOUGH!” Gustav roared in anger. Ulrik felt some of that emotion mirrored in himself, but Stearns did not stop laughing. Rather, it only got worse. Man must've lost it, Ulrik mused as the famous prime minister leaned toward the wall to steady himself, his body quivering in laughter. “I SAID, ENOUGH!” Louder this time, and standing up, but still in vain. Ulrik felt himself compelled to do something about the situation. More importantly, he was getting thoroughly annoyed at the damn American. He rose, walked over to him and gripped the man's shoulder.
“Stearns.” His icy tone, and its proximity, finally got through somewhat. Still laughing, though not quite as hard, the prime minister turned from the wall to face him best he could. Ulrik took a moment to get a good look on exactly how big the man was. Most importantly, the – very considerable – size of his arms. Oh, as they say, fuck it. Ulrik slugged him in the face, and he dropped to the floor.

“Ow. Ow. Ow.”

Stearns was up by now, still grinning. “You know, your highness, there's a reason boxers wear gloves. Punching hurts. Though I gotta say, you've got a mean right hook.”
Ulrik's hand was burning. Hot like the fires of a furnace. If not for the fact that he hadn't felt any sort of cracking, he would've sworn he had broken a finger or two. He waved it haplessly in the air. Gathering his thoughts, he began. “I...ow.” He looked at the offending appendage sternly, and tried again. “Good thing I finished the gramophone already, I won't be able to calibrate anything for a week with this hand...” He was panting slightly, but his pulse was starting to back down again. “Are you quite finished beating yourself up, your highness?” Baldur asked, seemingly back to his usual, quippy self. “Quite,” Ulrik answered, doing tiny movements with his fingers to see if everything was still working. “Ow.” It didn't exactly help. “Fine, no, but I'm working on it.” Baldur gave a brief smile, before facing the king. “Then, let us get back to the matter at hand. I would rather get this over with and out of my head as soon as possible. If possible.” He shook his head slightly, sighing.
Gustav was still mostly red. Mostly. He blew his mustaches. Snorted once. Twice. A third time, and an angry look to Stearns for good measure. “Your majesty. I'm sorry about that,” the prime minister offered. The king snorted a fourth time. “Fine!” He boomed, and sat back down on the chair, which creaked loudly under his weight. He looked back at Baldur, his anger finally starting to subside. He blew his mustaches again. Snorted. “Tell her,” he began in a sharp tone, raising a hand. He crooked it. Took it back. Drew a deep breath. Sighed heavily. “Tell her,” he repeated in a calmer tone, “that the court of Gustavus Adolphus welcomes her to his realm. Copenhagen. Denmark.” Stearns made a gesture. “Europe,” the king added. Another gesture, more firmly this time. The king frowned. “Earth? Really?” He shot a look at Stearns. The American sighed sharply. “Look, your majesty. There aren't, have never been, and hopefully will never be any dragons on this planet. Definitely none that could speak. Archeology is rather firm on that point. Since we are dealing with a goddamn angel or whatever she is, I'm going to take her words at face value and assume she's not just a total nutjob. If she's talking about dragons – not to mention the whole part where she magicked herself into an angel or whatever – then she means dragons. And that means she's not from around these parts. At all.”

Everyone in the room was looking at Stearns, trying to grasp the words he'd just said. Then, someone chuckled. Everyone was already looking at Stearns. It wasn't him. Everyone looked at each other. The chuckling continued. Their eyes collectively worked themselves to the other end of the room, where the angel was sitting. She was frowning deeply, certainly not chuckling in any sense of the word. The chuckling grew louder. Actually, Ulrik realized, not so much a chuckle as a...chatter. Like someone took bits and pieces of sound and pieced it together, then broke it apart again. Pieces of a...
Over the course of a second, the scattered sound became a single, unbroken scream of terror that made the whole room vibrate. Then, the room was filled with golden light.


Something isn't right, was Luna's first thought. It was a small, nagging sensation that had been growing inside her mind for a while now, but since the advisor's random outburst of laughter had been quelled – rather forcefully, which didn't exactly increase her hopes about her hosts – it had taken prevalence over everything else. They weren't paying any attention to her at the moment, either, so she had all the time she wanted to brood and wonder over what exactly was wrong. Then-
Something poked her.
Inside her head. Inside her newly acquired forelegs. Something ran its touch over her spine, under all the flesh and furless skin. All at the same time, everywhere.
Disgust was the first thing she felt, but quelling the immediate instinct to throw up only gave rise to further suspicion. What in the moon's name is-

Then, all of a sudden she knew. She felt it – with some sense she didn't even know she had, she felt it – Celestia was there. Inside.
Luna frowned, thinking back. Yes, she was there on the inside. With me. Before, when we were doing the experiment. The cure. But that was long ago, wasn't it? Then-
Her own thoughts drifted off, refusing to answer the question she didn't ask.
Then what? a familiar-sounding voice asked.
What if she never left? Her thoughts pushed ahead, disregarding the wishes of their owner.
Why would she have? the voice replied.
Then she is-
Here as well, it seems.
But her body, I, what is-
Then we have a problem.

Suddenly, all of her sister was pressing against the walls of her mind, screaming inside her head, trying to get out. Her horn was vibrating. She was vibrating. The air was swirling around her, trying to make room for something that came, seemingly, from nothing. A bright light, the sound of water drenching fire, then-

There she was.
She looked nothing like herself, but Luna knew. She could feel all of her sister in that shining, swirling orb of golden light, connected to herself with a string of silver tied to her horn. She could feel her, and-
“Where am I? Who- What are- Luna!”

Luna could only stare for a few moments, eyes wide at the sight before her. Her sister's voice was echoing from the orb of light, spreading in a chaos of sound without any mouth to focus it. Then they widened yet more, as the full realization of what all this meant hit her with the force of a meteor strike.

I am in an unknown land, far from Equestria, with creatures that speak draconic yet have never heard a dragon speak it. Celestia is here, in spirit. Literally. And I have no idea how we got here, or how to get back home.
There is nopony in Equestria to raise the sun or bring the night.
There is nopony to protect- She stopped. Now she was being overly pessimistic, and panicking. Still...
Be strong, Elements. Be strong, Cadence, Shining Armor. Keep Equestria safe...for all of Tartarus might break free any second, and we cannot help you.

“Sister...” She couldn't go on. The feeling of impending doom was too strong to touch on that subject now. Instead, she turned to Baldur and the others, who now (of course) were staring mouths agape at the two of them.
“Baldur. You are in the presence of Stejärnshímja, crown of Éykhaestir-reyka, ruler of the day and the sun.” She gave her sister's floating, ethereal shape a nod. Then caught herself, and shook her head. With her magic, she forged and attached a curtain of light to Celestia's miniature star-like body, giving her an appearance much like her own. With a few stylistic differences, of course.

“Luna! What is the meaning of this!”
She turned back around, to seea wide-eyed Celestia flailing her illusory legs about in a futile attempt to walk. “'Tis but an illusion, sister. Our guess is that thou must float, as thou have been since thy arrival.” Celestia gaped slightly, before realizing what she was talking about. “Oh.” After moving about some, Celestia shook her head. “No! I mean, Luna! What is going on here? Where are we? What are...those things?” She frowned, seemingly having realized that their own shapes were not much different.

Luna sighed. “The very questions we have been seeking answers for this last hour, those are. To little avail. As to how we got here...” She closed her mouth for a few seconds. Then continued, “Our guess – our hope – is that thy body remains asleep in the chamber where we did the experiment. We are here, though we shifted our shape for the purpose of...negotiations. How we came here with, or how thou so did without, and why, we cannot even guess.”

Celestia was obviously flustered. “Asleep!? Why can't you wake me up before you go, go...”
Then, the elder diarch went silent for a few seconds. A second later, Celestia floated forward, closer to Luna, until her forelegs disappeared as they came into contact with her own. “I can't even hug you.” Her sister's voice was filled with sadness and fear. “It was so strange, so frightening, being alone in there, inside your mind...” Luna frowned in confusion. What is she talking about? “The memories...I'm sorry, Luna. I'm so, so sorry.”
From the illusion of Celestia's eyes, a tear fell. Then another, and then one more. The fourth tear that fell from her sister's eyes left a small, wet patch on Luna's cheek. Luna jumped. Or tried, at least. Suddenly, she was being weighed down by the weight of her sobbing sister's new body, as she was crying herself into existence. Standing was all she could manage. Celestia was heavy.