Self Study
IC date: Autumn 77, 1008
OOC date: December 5, 2013
Location: Horseshoe Harbor Library
PCs: Makuru, Midnight-Sun

The smell of coffee is always present in the library, but of late it's become stronger. The way Midnight Sun, eyes heavy and a bright red scarf tucked around his neck, is bolting back cup after cup is probably related. While he does have a book open on one of the worktables and a neat scroll and inkwell next to it, he's spending so much time getting up to get more to drink that he doesn't seem to be making much progress. Snophie has made herself at home atop the small pile of books on the work table; she would seem to be napping. Eventually, Midnight Sun drops into the chair with a groan, staring up at the ceiling. "I don't think there's anything in here," he says, maybe to Sophie or maybe to the ceiling. How can anypony be sure, really?

Perhaps what Midnight Sun needs is a break from the everyday rigmarole of fruitless research. Perhaps a distraction is in order! Perhaps that distraction comes in the form of the black and white dreadlocks and gold eyes juuust tall enough to see over the edge of the work table, staring at the pegasus in what is most assuredly not an incredibly creepy way. "What's not there?"

Midnight-Sun's reactions are delayed by aggrevated sleep deprivation. "The fairy tale. The one that The Little Seapony is a cleaned-up version of." He frowns at the dangling preposition. "'Of which My Little Seapony is a cleaned-up version'?" Then the fact that somepony unseen just addressed him reaches his brain, and his reactions are shown to be volatilized by a *lot* of coffee. That is to say he jumps six feet straight up and back, half-flipping on the way, before steadying and looking to see the foal. "Yipe! I mean hi!"

The little zebra — for those dark gray stripes on his gray muzzle are pretty indicative what manner of pony he is — seems unconcerned by Midnight's delayed and overenthusiastic yelp of surprise. "Ooh, you're looking for fairy tales? You should talk to Miss Field out in the forest, momma says that she knows everything there is to know about fairy tales!" He puts his forehooves on the table and looks at the titles on the books which have been pulled out, not to mention the scroll in progress.

The books are _Perfecting Potion Puissance (a Pretty Pyromancer Portfolio)_, a worn copy of _Thaumatoxicology_, and the incongruous _Delightful Tales for Fillies and Colts_. The scroll has a lot of what look to be notes on it, things like: "Can't talk", scratched out replaced with "Can't _communicate_"; "Curse", scratches out with the note "No such thing"; "enchantment, magical bargain, something else?"; "The Little Seapony: two hundred years old, probably — before then what?"; and "Why does this library not have any kind of decent INDEX?!" scralwed across the bottom. Other notes look to be various titles that will be left as an exercise for the reader.

Midnight Sun settles down, though he does not resume his seat. He frowns. "Makuru, right? I'm Midnight Sun. Don't touch anything." The most important piece of business having been taken care of, he relaxes somewhat. "Thank you for the advice. I've met Snowfield and thought of her, but I don't look forward to trying to get her to do me a favor." Briskly: "Now, why are you here?" A little tension as he realizes it might have to do with books and the taking-off-the-shelves of same.

Makuru oohs loudly as he is recognized. "You know me, Mister Sun? Wow! Did Mister Bird tell you about me? You seem like you'd be friends with him, 'cause you're both really smart ponies. You've gotta be smart to work in a library, right?" Then his attention is back to the books on the table and to the question he's been asked. "I'm tryin' to make a potion but Miss Fizz doesn't know all the ingredients, so I was gonna look up old fairy tales and stuff and see if any of them had magical dream flowers 'cause momma says that all myths have some truth in them somewhere. Can I have this book?" He tries to grab 'Perfecting Potion Puissance' out of the stack with his teeth.

Midnight-Sun snaps reflexively, "No!" After a tense moment, he relents. "I mean, please be careful, and no, you can't take any of the books out of the library while the librarian's away. Carrel Nest should be back… any day now." He sounds a little doubtful of this last. "Meanwhile, you can look at it here. IF you're gentle with it. These books are fragile." He looks dubiously at the foal, clears his throat. "'Mister Bird'? I don't know him. No, I saw you telling everypony your cutie mark story a couple of weeks ago, do you remember?"

Makuru recoils at the sudden tension in the room. "Okay, I'm sorry! I'll read it here!" He much more gingerly pulls the book out of the stack, still with his teeth because how else is a pony going to pick things up, and flips it open to the index immediately. Mention of the cutie mark story exchange those weeks past makes the little colt quirk his head to the side and thinks back to the day. "I remember telling my story, but I don't remember you, sorry! There were a ton of ponies around that day and I tried to remember everypony's names but all I really remember was Noodle." And let's be honest, how can anypony forget Noodle? "So you're not the librarian, Mister Sun?"

Midnight-Sun relaxes when Makuru displays the proper respect for the inventory. Sophie wakes up when her roost is suddenly shorter by a volume, blinking eight eyes at the world. Foal! She spins in place to face towards the zebra and stare intently. Midnight, meanwhile, shakes his head. "No, the librarian is Mister Nest. I met him when I was trying to do some research a couple of weeks ago. He said I was the first pony to come in in months and was he glad to see me and by the way, could I watch the place while he ran off to do some shopping, here are the keys, be sure to lock up at night…" The stallion's voice trails off. "Oh." His ears flatten. "I was wrong, Makuru: I *am* the librarian." He looks at the colt, warmed to see somepony using a book *properly*. "So what potion are you trying to make that you need magical dream flowers, anyway? I might be able to help."

"It's called the Dreamwalker Draught!" Makuru says happily now that he knows Midnight is the librarian, because librarians are super helpful and know everything. "Miss Fizz told me about it. It'll let me help Dreamy out protecting everypony's dreams! She works so hard making sure we all don't have nightmares, it's the least I can do." The zebra frowns at the thoughts flitting through his mind and most definitely not at the spider staring at him from atop the stack of books. "Miss Fizz said that there's an ingredient from the potion she doesn't know, though… it needs something to tie it together. Magic to link a pony to another pony."

Midnight-Sun frowns thoughtfully. "I don't know if that one's in there. It's kind of an introductory text." He doesn't seem to have a sense of appropriate vocabulary to use with a foal, but on the other hoof it doesn't seem to have mattered so far. "Why don't you keep looking in it, though, particularly for your mystery ingredient. I'm going to have a look at the catalog." Sophie, meanwhile, is easing her way down her roost and towards the zebra foal, eight legs clicking on the tabletop. Normally, Midnight is sufficiently on the ball to keep her from just exploring interesting new ponies, but he seems distracted as he turns towards the case of long card drawers behind the front desk. He calls back, "What kind of bringing together, though? Like love or friendship or loyalty or something like that?"

Makuru's eyes sloooowly lift up to stare at the strange creature making a clicking sound nearby him. "Hello there!" he says to the spider, quiet but cheerful. "I'm Makuru, what's your name?" Because of course the zebra can talk spider. Totally a thing zebras do. Midnight's question — not his vocabulary! — earns a puzzled look from the apprentice alchemist. "I'm… not sure? I need something to strengthen the mind, something to induce sleep and something to bring dreams… those are all simple enough. I mean, relatively simple, some will be complicated to make but I know how." He flips a few pages in the potion text. "The missing part is just 'something to bridge the gap between ponies'. Miss Fizz talked about sympathetic magic and ponies sharing a 'conceptual source' but that all went over my head."

Sophie eyes Makuru eightfold for a long moment.

Midnight Sun, meanwhile, is quite oblivious, digging through cards. "Hmm. Well, lets start with all the books that have potion recipes in them" — he extracts six cards from the catalog — "and add any herbariums" — two more — "and general magical treatises." — a dozen cards for that category alone. He stares at his hooves. "Wow, these are gonna take a while to find." He nonetheless comes back to the table, sorting through his haul. "Okay," he says absently. "Maybe the methodical approach isn't the greatest idea. Something to bring ponies together… a 'conceptual source'… so… something that symbolizes how all ponies are basically the same? Bringing them together by having them *be* together? That… ha! We don't want stories about dreams! We want origin myths!" And he drops his cards on the table, going back to the catalog for another round.

About then, Sophie gleefully jumps on the zebra colt's muzzle. A friend!

Makuru tilts his head back when he finds his new spidery friend perched atop him, balancing Sophie on his nose. "I dunno… I think we're already all connected!" he offers, trying very hard to only move his jaw and not his entire head as he talks. He doesn't know how well this spider can balance! "Dreamy's been running through everypony's dreams for weeks, we've all gotta be chock full of her magic. Maybe finding a way to tap into that one connection…?"

Sophie has lots of extra legs for extra balance and this is a fun game! She dances on the zebra's muzzle, having the time of her life.

Midnight's jaw falls open. "Dreamy's been… *what*? What are you even talking about? What do you mean 'protecting everypony's dreams'?" His caffeine-addled brain seems slowly to be tracking around to the practical point Makuru's been kind of assuming as a given this whole time. "Are you saying that *everypony* is seeing Dreamy in their dreams? It's not just me? Are *you*?"

The zebra giggles at Sophie's dance. Such an agile little creature! And with such amazing rhythm! Alas, the show is interrupted by the very surprised pegasus. "You… you didn't know?" His voice is hesitant. How does he explain the situation? "She's been in a bunch of ponies' dreams, yeah. I've seen her three or four times already! She keeps coming to save me from the nightmare, so that's why I want to help her." Makuru gives Midnight Sun a determined nod of his head which may or may not dislodge the spider on his muzzle. "It's not fair. I don't want to be a burden… not when there's a chance I can use my talent to help her!"

Sophie has ever-so-many legs with which to hang on! She does start tumbling off one side of the zebra's muzzle, but catches a tickling hold and climbs right back up in moments.

"Oh." Midnight Sun's ears are distinctly turned down at the thought. "I thought I was just having a bunch of nightmares. Dream Daze showing up in them was weird, but I figured I was just dreaming about a familiar pony." He squints and sets his jaw — between that and his ears coming up, he looks a much more determined pony. "Well. You're right that we need to help her. You're a good friend, Makuru." He looks a little ashamed for a moment, but it passes. "I'll help you any way I can. If there's a magical dream flower to be found, we'll find it." He winces a bit. "Even if it means borrowing a book from Snowfield after all."

"We can start with what we've got here at the library?" Makuru suggests to the librarian. "Whatever books of fairy tales you've got handy would be good. I'm a pretty fast reader, I bet I can get through a bunch before my bedtime!" Alas, his own dramatic determined expression is marred by the scratchy little legs of an adorable spider trying to hold on desperately to his face. The colt squirms, shakes his head and lifts his shoulders instinctively at Sophie's facial parkour. "Ack, careful, that tickles," he snickers.

Midnight-Sun sighs, scrubbing a hoof through his mane. For some reason, this draws attention to how red his eyes are. "I've already looked, and I could only find a couple of books of fairy tales in the place. It doesn't seem that foal's fiction was a priority was whoever put together the collection." A hoof waves towards _Delightful Tales_ and _The Yellow Flutter Pony Book_ in the middle of the book stack and the book he had open going in, something titled _Snow Queens and Firestorms_. "I don't remember reading anything applicable, but maybe you'd know it if you find it. Help yourself." He yawns. "I'm gonna get summore coffee. You want some?"

Makuru shakes his head at the offer. "Momma says if I drink coffee it'll turn my stripes brown," he states matter-of-factly. If momma said it it must be true. "I guess I'll look through these… I don't think these are the sorts of fairy tales Miss Fizz had in mind when she said that myths had truth behind them…" Wait, maybe THAT'S what the problem is. "What about big pony books? Stuff on myths and legends and… and whatever it's called when grown ups read them instead of foals?"

Midnight-Sun cradles the steaming mug of precious elixir between his hooves, either utterly entranced or considering Makuru's words. Then he tilts the cup back, draining it of a third of its contents at once. "Sometimes we call it 'history'," he says in a musing tone. "So, more general ponylore, less foal's tales. I can do that. Cross reference with sleep… wait." He bustles towards the catalog, checks, turns around and carefully sets down his mug, then addresses the catalog again. He pulls out a drawer from the top right corner of the array, hoofing the tabs along its length about halfway back, then pulls out a single bright piece of card. "_Eternal Night Across Equestria_." He bustles towards the back, calling out in a most-unlibrary voice, "It's a collection of tales about Nightmare Moon that sprang up over the course of the Celestine Era. Fell out of favor more than a decade ago, I wonder why." He comes flying across the top of the shelves with a blue-sleeved book in his hooves. "Give this one a try."

"Ooooooh," the little colt says at the description of the new book. "That's PERFECT! Momma said that Princess Luna is a dream guardian just like Dreamy is! Nightmare Moon must've been… well, a nightmare monster! I bet if there's anything about protecting ponies from bad dreams it'll be in here!" Makuru makes grabby motions with his hooves when the pegasus arrives with the blue-bound tome. "I'm gonna read it cover to cover! Oh, do you want to read it with me, Mister Sun? You look like you could use a break." From all of his reading. To do more reading.

Midnight-Sun looks from book to book to book to scroll to book to coffee pot and grins. "I'd love to take a break to read the book with you, Makuru." He props the book on the table and rucks a chair around to be next to Makuru's so they can both see it. The cover features the popular image of Nightmare Moon rearing. Before flipping the book open, he remarks, "*That* turned out to be more accurate than anypony thought." And then they begin.