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Fan Fic / The Journey Of Graves

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The Journey of Graves is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction series that revolves around the titular chacter, Gunmetal Graves. Set in an alternate Equestria populated by humans instead of equines, the series retains the family-friendly slice-of-life and adventure themes the show is known for, while hinting at a wider world that matches more traditional fantasy settings. The most immediate change is the existence of the Marshals, a branch of the Equestrian Royal Guard that acts as Equestria's first and last line of defense. Graves is one of the Marshals' best operatives, but his unyielding dedication to his job affords him little time for developing personal relationships. Naturally, his superiors see fit to station him in Ponyville for a year to force him to make some friends.


Over time, he starts to let his barriers down and develop lasting friendships with the denizens of Ponyville (and even something a little more with one in particular), but time and again, something invariably happens to make things complicated (but most of the time, it's just complicated to him). Could it be that our stoic Marshal is starting to find himself at home in Ponyville?

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The Journey of Graves contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Shining Armor, whom Soarin calls a seen-once-in-a-century magical prodigy. Soarin states that Shining could curbstomp Graves in a straight duel, though Graves would have the advantage in other situations.
  • Affably Evil: Embodiment of emptiness Nul is surprisingly friendly towards Graves and considers him a kindred spirit.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: Graves and Rarity share one after escaping the chimera and skullpions.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Skullpions aren't afraid of Graves. They ARE afraid of chimeras.
  • Always on Duty: Despite being stationed in a small town like Ponyville, Graves never lets his guard down. Also holds true for the Marshals in general.
  • Anger Born of Worry: In "A New Road Begins," Rarity enters Graves's hospital room to have him respond with "Hey." After a moment of stunned silence, Rarity crosses the room to his bed and proceeds to smack him the hell out of him while ranting on how she waited for two years for him and all he had to say to her was "Hey"?!?!!!
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  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Graves and Shining Armor during the Ghangelings' coup.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Graves and Sweetie Belle in the 3rd story.
  • Badass Bandolier: Graves and his gun case.
  • Badass Baritone: Guess.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Rarity makes Graves one for the Grand Galloping Gala. She's actually been doing this for all of his clothes all saga long.
  • Badass in Distress: Story 5.
  • Badass Longcoat: Graves. It doesn't help that according to Word of God, he was inspired by Graves from League of Legends, sans beard and plus wide-brimmed hat.
  • Big Brother Worship: Twilight, much like in canon. She responds to the reveal that Graves entered the academy at age 12, when Shining had entered it at age 15 with sputtering disbelief. She refuses to believe that there could be anyone smarter or better than her brother.
  • Big Heroic Run: Graves and Shining Armor, on their way to protect Celestia.
  • Blood Magic: "The Ugly Side of Right" shows that this exists in the setting, and it's just as nasty as anything from Dragon Age.
  • Bluff the Imposter: Unknowingly trapped in a coma, this is the only way for Graves to realize it and escape.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: "Journey's End" ends with a battered and tired Graves trapped in another dimension facing an army of demons all by himself.
  • Bring News Back: The lone survivor of Operation Elder barely manages to return to Equestria with an giant chunk of valuable cargo and report that his mission was completed.
  • Broken Ace: Graves. One of the most decorated and successful marshals ever, good with animals and kids, always ready to help others, and a Humble Hero to boot. But, as later stories show, a lot of that comes from a very dark and sad place.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: A Changeling assassination attempt provides the ideal backdrop for this.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Seriously, Graves. A little bit of time off isn't the end of the world.
  • Cold Sniper: Graves' Back Story explains a LOT. A rare good guy example of this.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: Graves has gray eyes. What's interesting is that they are described as different kinds of gray depending on the situation. When Graves is in "Marshal" mode, his eyes are like cold gunmetal steel (hence his nickname "Gunmetal" Graves). When he's remembering tragic events in his past they become gray like fog. In more emotional and tender moments, they become shining silver.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Graves in the entire second story. Twilight (of all people) is the one to set him straight.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Most everyone in the military about Graves and the Marshals in general. Hemmingmane seems to think Graves is a robot, based on how he can take more punishment than physically possible and perform missions that usually require teams of five single-handedly. Hemmingmane's other theory is that Graves is a Revenant- an unholy, undead fusion of several highly skilled individuals into a single body, created with black magic.
    • Even Twilight gets in on the act when she thinks she's found evidence that Graves isn't who he claims he is. She quickly finds out she's wrong.
  • Covered with Scars: Graves, much to his misplaced shame.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Graves versus a group of rogue Marshals. Guess who wins.
    • And also Graves versus Spike. After the latter challenged him to a duel, Graves toyed with him for most of the fistfight, taunting him over being too weak to fight for Rarity. And then suddenly, Spike tapped into his dragon blood and turned it into a mostly-even fight. He still lost, though.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Rarity, both when describing her Diamond Dog Encounter and when saving Graves' hide from Skullpions and a chimera.
  • Dark and Troubled Past / Doomed Hometown: Graves' hometown was destroyed by orc raiders, who slaughtered his parents. Then, after years of brutal training and finally joining a Band of Brothers, he is Forced to Watch as they are cut down while buying him time to kill an insane demigod.
  • Darker and Edgier: "The Ugly Side of Right" is the first story in the series to have the "Dark" tag on Fimfiction for good reason.
  • Deadly Gas: Not in the traditional sense: this miasma drives you into an insane, murderous rage. If someone doesn't put you down first, you're going to hurt people. Made exponentially worse by the fact that a dragon demigod has been nesting right in the middle of it for who knows how long. "Journey's End" reveals that the miasma is the leaking essence of Nul, the embodiment of void.
  • Deal with the Devil: Many villains in Equestria's history made dark bargains for power, power that inevitably twisted them into monsters. And Nul, embodiment of void itself is the Devil in all of these Deals.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In Operation Elder Graves slew a draconic demigod with a bolt of lightning.
    • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The rest of his team sacrificed themselves buying Graves the minutes he needed to create that bolt. In "Journey's End" Graves sacrifices his only means of returning home to help seal Null.
  • Dirt Forcefield: Rarity has one, and it's even lampshaded.
  • Dirty Cop: The rogue marshals in the first story.
  • Driven to Suicide: Graves stabs himself in the chest to escape the Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • Dynamic Entry: A double whammy: right after being thrown four stories into the air, Graves bursts into Celestia's room and jumps in front of a poisoned bolt for her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Graves had to go through an entire dimension of nothingness, just to get his happy ending.
  • Edible Ammunition: In story 9 Pinkie dresses up like a ninja and starts throwing baked goods at a pair of guards to act as a distraction.
  • Education Through Pyrotechnics: The best way to showcase the proper technique for spellguns is to blow things up, obviously.
  • Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: An aging spell gone awry turns Graves into a child, complete with insatiable sweet tooth and hyperactive energy.
  • Especially Zoidberg: "Especially the rubber chicken!"
  • Everyone Can See It: Graves and Rarity. They are quick to deny it at several points. She even engages in a conversation with her pet to tell her that she is not in such a relationship.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Each entry in the saga takes place in a small window of time, but the series overall spans the better part of a year.
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Marshals are equipped with unique weapons called spellguns. They're about as awesome as they sound. Graves' spellgun is an Ace Custom modified to be a magic sniper rifle.
  • Five-Man Band: Standard operating procedure for Marshals.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Animals really like Graves for some weird reason. Even Angel Bunny.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Just because the Marshals are a peacekeeping force doesn't mean they're a polite one.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Pinkie Pie on three occasions, all in the same chapter of the same story. the notes below are the translations.
    • "I want to spill the blood of our enemies!" when she said sh thought it meant she liked to party.
    • "Prepare to lose the jewels of the family!" right when throwing a bear claw at a Royal Guard's face.
    • "Your mother was the daughter of cattle, and your father the son of donkeys!" at the same Royal Guard.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: In "Lazy Summer Days", Graves is set on edge when he finds out that a lot of guys in Ponyville are attracted to Rarity. It confounds him so much it drives him to drink. In "Return to the Gala", this happens to Graves again when he sees Rarity go off with Prince Blueblood, not knowing that Rarity isn't happy about it. It also happens to Rarity; imagining Graves at the Gala with another woman irritates her.
  • Harmful Healing: Lazarus Pits can heal even the worst injuries in minutes, but those minutes are pure agony. Equestria's military academy keeps a Lazarus Pit in their basement to "heal" recruits who injure themselves doing stupid things to teach them not to be idiots. Graves exploited the pit as part of his Training from Hell.
  • Hates Small Talk: For Graves, a very good reason to not want to attend the Grand Galloping Gala.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Hemmingmane's reaction upon seeing Applejack for the first time in Story 9.
  • Healing Shiv: Graves can heal people by firing healing magic from his spellgun. Twilight nearly faints in the first story when she sees Graves doing this to Spike.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During "Operation Elder" Grave's fellow marshals died fighting against an opponent they had no chance of defeating to buy Graves the five or so minutes he needed to kill it.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Due to being covered in scars, people keep seeing Graves as a monster despite the fact that he earned those scars saving them. One tribe even took those scars to be proof that he made a Deal with the Devil and formed an angry mob. It's one of the reasons he doesn't have very good self-esteem.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Ugly Side of Right", the villain performed Blood Magic on at least one child, which left her tortured soul alone in a basement. The villain learned how to do this with a book of blood magic rites given to him by a mysterious stranger. Graves tortures him to death by following the book's instructions.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: The residents of Ponyville are more than happy to hold a celebration for a group of passing Marshals.
  • Humble Hero: Graves, to the point of obliviousness when someone is describing him.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Prince Blueblood desires Rarity for this reason. He even proposes to her in "Return to the Gala". She turns him down flat, having outgrown her superficial fairytale romance fantasies.
  • Innocently Insensitive: In the first story, the Mane Six are chagrined when they realize they never asked Graves his name each time they met him that day. In the second story, Twilight of all people has to inform Graves that the others were upset because he refused to spend more time with them, and not because he couldn't help out more.
  • I Work Alone: Marshals usually work in small squads, but Graves is a special case.
  • Living Legend: Graves among Equestria's military. Shining Armor too.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Story 8 plays this in spades. And it is quite the Tear Jerker at the end.
  • Mad God: Typhon, a draconic demigod driven insane by a Deadly Gas.
  • Mangst: Graves. Who else?
  • Manly Tears: As the name implies, Graves. After he's escapes the lotus-eater machine as described above.
  • My Greatest Failure: According to General Ironside, Graves' attitude towards Operation Elder.
  • Naked on Arrival: Sudden aging from child back to adult equals this.
  • Nice Hat: Graves really likes his wide-brimmed hat.
  • No Escape but Down: If your choices are "jump" or "get eaten by a pack of monsters", you're going to choose the former.
  • No One Should Survive That: Graves seems to make a habit of this. First Operation Elder, then a crossbow bolt with enough poison to kill Celestia.
  • No Social Skills: Graves is totally unprepared to handle people who actually want his company. Twilight can hardly believe that she's met someone who has even more trouble making friends than her.
  • One-Man Army: What all has Graves done so far? He single-handedly took down an entire squad of Marshals, took down an entire group of trolls (with some help from Sweetie Belle), took down Skullpions and a Chimera (and Rarity saved his hide), is responsible or throwing off the Changeling coup with his very presence (they didn't expect him to be there, and he lived up to the hype). And if that wasn't enough, he survived enough poison to kill Celestia, followed by waking up months earlier than he was supposed to.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: The best way to deal with a rogue group of Marshals is to send another Marshal.
  • Only Friend: Shining Armor for Graves back when he was a cadet. Ironside is grateful for this, believing this was a major reason Graves isn't totally emotionless and withdrawn.
  • Powered Armor: Some Marshals forgo spellguns in favor of beating the tar out of their foes.
  • Protectorate: Graves is this to Ponyville.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite his name, General Ironside is a good example of this. Especially considering that Rarity and Twilight broke into his office.
  • Rescue Romance: The relationship between Graves and Rarity really takes off when the two are waylaid by vicious predators. It's a rare mutual case since each saves the other at different points. More importantly, the situation gives them the opportunity to open up about themselves.
  • Red Baron: The Ghost of Thunder. People started calling Graves that since he's a deadly combination of Cold Sniper and Shock and Awe that just won't die.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Deconstructed. Ironside explains that Shining Armor may have wanted to understand Graves, but their backgrounds and inherent natures were too different for that to happen. While they did become friends, they still didn't have anything in common.
  • Scary Surprise Party: Pinkie Pie likes surprises. Graves doesn't.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Graves screams like this after being pranked with a bunch of fake bugs.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Ironside reveals the true story behind Operation Elder to Rarity in order to help Graves.
    Ironside: Rules are meant to be broken. And besides, he’s a bucking good soldier: it’d be a shame to lose him to something that could be solved with a good talking to.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Being reminded of Operation Elder during which his entire team died causes Graves' grey eyes to fog up with a faraway look. His eyes look so dead in those moments that Applejack seriously considers the "Graves is an undead super-soldier" theory. Ironside and Celestia sent Graves to Ponyville for the express purpose of giving him a long overdue vacation to keep him from becoming a non-functional version of this.
  • Shock and Awe: Graves uses lightning magic in battle. Story 9 reveals that this is extremely difficult to the point of Awesome, but Impractical for just about anyone who isn't Graves.
  • Shout-Out: In story 9, General Ironside mentions a dragon of the Everfree Forest named Razorfang.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Graves. He's just a magically weak marshal with No Social Skills whose success is due to an insane training regimen and work ethic. His success and his tendency to avoid getting close to others has lead to a bunch of rumors claiming that he's some kind of Super Soldier. A few even believe he's immortal, a robot, a superpowered undead warrior, or some combination of those. His backstory revealed in Story 9 reveals he's a Living Legend among Equestria's military who has performed hundreds of missions, many of them singlehandedly, in the span of eight years.
  • Sole Survivor: Operation Elder. Five men left, one returned. He was also one of the only survivors of his hometown after it was ravaged by orcs.
    • Survivor's Guilt: The above has left him with a bad case of this. The Lotus-Eater Machine apparently brought this back in full force, which is why he leaves Ponyville. He doesn't believe he deserves to be happy.
  • Stealth Pun: Perhaps unintentional, but in story one, Twilight describes Graves as being "like a rock." Given Rarity's history with rocks, maybe it's not all that surprising that she falls in love with him.
  • Taking the Bullet: Graves takes a crossbow bolt laced with enough Heart's Desire to kill Celestia in the chest to save her and uses the last of his strength to send a bolt of lightning at the attacker.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Or in this case, a mitten. Spike does this to Graves over Rarity. He accepts the challenge.
  • Training from Hell: Graves put himself through this at the academy to make up for his low magical ability. He'd repeatedly push his body to its breaking point, then dive into a magical pool that heals people extremely quickly and extremely painfully.
  • Tranquil Fury: In "The Ugly Side of Right", Graves is eerily calm as he punishes a man who murdered at least one child for a Blood Magic experiment by vivisecting the guy alive as per the guy's own Blood Magic manual's instructions, using healing magic to keep him alive as long as possible throughout the ordeal.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The true story about Operation Elder was covered up and the marshals involved in it effectively unpersoned since admitting that Equestrian marshals slew an ancient revered dragon would have sparked a war between Equestria and dragonkind.
  • Unperson: The fate of Team 26, Graves' former comrades, as part of the coverup of Operation Elder. Rarity bitterly notes that even in death they are still sacrificing themselves for Equestria.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: In "Journey's End", Nul claims that the end of the world is less important to him than meeting Graves face to face. He's also been observing Graves throughout his entire career with great interest. This is because he believes that Graves is the only other being in existence who believes that the end of all things is ultimately inevitable — that Nul is inevitable.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Graves and Shining Armor. During their years in the military academy, the latter eventually wore down Graves. In the present they have a strong yet snarky friendship. Despite having nothing in common.
  • Weak, but Skilled: According to General Ironside, Graves is actually below average in terms of magical ability. He only got to where he is now thanks to an insane work ethic.
  • What Is This Feeling?: Graves never stays in one place for long, so emotional attachment is a new concept for him.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Graves doesn't have the magical reserves needed to cast stronger spells. All he can really use is the most basic lightning spell. That combined with his hard-earned skills and his modified spellgun are all he needs.
  • Workaholic: Graves' "mission" in Ponyville was mostly an excuse to make him take a long overdue vacation.
  • The Worf Effect: In "Journey's End", a partially unsealed Nul casually banishes Discord. Judging by Discord's expression, it wasn't pleasant either.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The lecture Rarity gives Graves in story five.
    Rarity: "You throw yourself out there every day, facing dangers few men could even dream of, only to come back a battered and beaten mess. The people who should be thanking you shun you, even revile you because of the scars you got protecting them. And what do you do? You forgive them. You don’t even hold a grudge, though Celestia knows you should, and you move on. You just… take up your gun, and go out to do it all over again."
  • You Did Everything You Could: Rarity and Ironside's opinion of Graves' Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: After waking up from a coma at the end of Part 8, Graves promptly ends his relationship with Rarity and walks out the door. Confirmed in the first chapter of Part 9, where it states that Graves' callous departure did spread doubt on whether he even cared.

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