A/N: Hello everybody! You probably don't know me, since most of you are likely Gravity Falls fans, and I was not generally involved in that fandom. I am, however, a devotee, and more than that one who never understood the concept behind crossovers being fundamentally worse than pure fiction. So...Take my offering.
Prologue: Can't Argue With A Classic
The minute hand moved.
The thorns pulled.
The boy started to walk. It was rainy, wet, and, in theory, cold, but the fire still kept things fairly warm.
The building didn't look inviting. More like a wooden castle, meant to remind everyone who beheld it that it was the owner of the castle who ruled the land, not them. But it looked defensible, anyway; that was part of its threatening presence. That was what was important now.
The sky wasn't going to stop burning any time soon, after all.
"Did He see you, kid?" asked the man at the doors. The boy was confused a bit, thinking he meant one of the faces in the doors, but then he realized He was internally capitalized. There was only one He in the world now. As far as the boy knew, He didn't. But there was a lot the boy didn't know. Things he couldn't know; that knowledge was not meant for him.
He knew the girl, the twin, and the eternal child. He was fond of them, but he couldn't tell you why. Sentiment was something He didn't understand, so He got rid of it. It wasn't a complete thing, but it did make it a small enough thing for Him to safely ignore. The eternal child peeked through the window shutters, and winced at the blackened sky. "Nothing out there right now, dudes. Well, there's somethin' out there, but none of it's menacing guys in hoodies. Kind of wish it were, you should be really glad you did not look back, let me tell you."
"Hey guys, I wonder if this computer still works," said the girl, plugging in an internet cable. Archaic, but did the boy really expect anything else in this place? An almost obscenely normal boot-up screen, featuring a clock counting down. A sterile wallpaper, probably meant to seem comforting but instead came off as cold. Unsympathetic.
The minute hand moved again, and the thorns pulled more.
The Internet worked, it seemed. Not that it helped. There was nothing He hadn't touched in some way, no matter how frivolous. Here, on TYZ, there was talk of a bright young starlet and her upcoming marriage to the Muse of Lethargy and Despair like it was just actors being an item, with the only diversion from usual gossip being sappy praises for a woman not listening to the naysayers and accepting the love of a creature that generally identified as female on the occasions it needed a human pronoun. There, a medical website described the growth of viney plantlife through varicose veins and developing scars that formed lettering of the hundred proclamations of the King of Lost Hope as mere skin conditions, with the same weight of zits or rashes. The CIA and White House urged cooperation with the Master of All Sorrows and its sibling/mate, the Heart in Man's Dementia, as He urged.
Nothing personal escaped His influence, either. Every social media profile contained some prayer to the new Lord of the Fates, some plea to turn away His dooms or praise for dooms that were not as ill as they could have been. Not a single name among the profiles, for names of individual people were the ultimate sentiment. Nothing but a bunch of clocks in the name spaces
Almost to the point where the hour hand would move now, and moving would be a thing of the past.
Eventually, even the twin's boundless optimism gave out, and all turned away from the computer. For a moment or two, before the man turned back. And screamed.
There was something looking out into the room, a pair of eyes on a face so dark and featureless that it might as well have been the darkness grew the pearl-like organs itself. Almost like organic spotlights, scanning the room with a malevolent curiosity, twin beams of dim, baleful light shining through the screen and gliding over all present.
The boy unplugged the computer, but while the sound of the hard drive whirred down and ceased, the eyes remained the clocks it had for pupils fixing themselves on him, almost seeming amused. He swept the monitor to the floor, causing it to land screen down.
That didn't stop the searching beams from exploring the room, though. Just not from the computer.
And the boy understood; the reason the building was a fortress, and not one for humans. It was His castle, His throne, His clocktower. He could have destroyed the interlopers at any given time, but He had let them live long enough to show the totality of victory, backed by the process of destiny itself. To mock them with the immanent death of humanity as they knew it, to roar in glory one last time before setting out to establish its new world order, one by, for, and about Him. And there was nothing anyone could do, for His victory was preordained.
The hour hand moved, and with that, the thorns grew so tight he had to kneel on the clock's face. There was no way to consider running now. The waiting men licked their lips.
Dipper Pines did not have nearly as many nightmares as his parents often thought. What he did have was a tendency to make sure the world knew when he did.
A couple blinks, and the wide-eyed expression on the male half of the Mystery Twins quickly melted into annoyance. And an adult bursting through the door in three...two…
A very loud crash that would guarantee the world knew that Dipper Pines had a nightmare (if somewhat indirectly) resounded through the shack, a half-second later than predicted.
"DIPPER! WHAT IN THE NAME OF...do I need the deer tranquilizer again?"
"No, Grunkle Stan, it's just a stupid nightmare," Dipper began, already retreating back under the covers. "No portals or great uncles incapable of just telling family about other family members were involved, in case you were wondering."
Outside of Dipper's field of vision, Stan mulled over a possible response to the not-entirely-veiled snipe. Before he could formulate a response (one that wouldn't sheepishly dodge the question), his niece was awake enough to catch on to the general gist of the situation.
"Oh come on, bro-bro. are you going to be mad about this forever? It makes your face all...wrinkly."
More out of habit when Mabel noticed these things, Dipper concentrated on somehow un-furrowing his brow. "I know Mabel, it's just that two months of lying is kinda hard to get over, even if Stan was just trying to-you know what, I really don't think the middle of the night is a good time to have this discussion."
"Good plan!" And with that, Stan ran off back to his bedroom. Mabel sighed, but quickly was snoring herself.
Dipper took a little longer to go asleep. Maybe that was a bit harsh, he decided, and to be frank, that dream seemed a little weird. The kind of weird that the town of Gravity Falls was known for...kind of. Most weird things in this town, while often spooky, were usually benign or at least open to peaceful resolution (a certain one-eyed floating triangle being a rather large exception, but the humorless nature of the dream really didn't seem like Bill Cipher's style). This though...this seemed like a ripoff from a Lovecraft ripoff.
Whatever. Again, middle of the night, there wasn't nearly enough energy left in him to actually scan the journals to figure out what kind of weird thing would provoke dreams of name-eating god-monsters who took over the world, or convince Stan to let him look over numbers 1 and 2. Besides, it could have been just a nightmare...but there was a difference between skepticism and being so closed-minded your brain suffocated.
After quickly writing down the details of the nightmare, the male half of the Mystery Twins went back to sleep, hoping the new dream would be perfectly and nicely irrelevant.
One of the weird things of Gravity Falls, Jeff the Gnome King In All But Name, yawned. He really didn't like staying up this late, but there were three things that fell to his unofficially kingly duties to solve.
First, he was the smartest gnome, on a general basis, and had the most skills with tracking and organizing the gnomes' collective supplies of firewood, stone, and the jerky.
Second, someone was stealing supplies of both the firewood and the jerky.
Third, the other gnomes had collectively decided that whoever thought stealing the jerky was a good idea was completely and utterly insane, and thus had hidden behind their exalted unofficial leader before the crazy thief decided he or she wanted gnome flesh to wash out the taste of the jerky. Hence, Jeff using his tracking abilities in the middle of the night, finding the thief with nothing but a pitchfork to guard him. And several other gnomes with pitchforks, because he wasn't an idiot.
"Alright, Carson, you take the left side of the path, Steve gets the right, Shmebulock, you guard the back and draw out your scream if you see our thief coming our way-and, er, everyone else too, I just don't have a way to tell thief from any other doom with his...descriptive abilities."
The gnome in question shrugged. "Shmebulock," he agreed, taking up the rearguard.
The tiny men of the forest, tiny lanterns in hand, proceeded to set off in the direction of the latest not-normal-forest sound.
"So, here I was, taking my squirrel bath…"
Apart from Jeff himself, other gnomes had grown used to their boss' boredom-induced prattling. They simply nodded and pretended to listen.
"...So I say to the gremloblin, 'your dad was scared of squirrels? Well, first, that is kind of stupid, but second…"
That didn't stop them from praying that danger would present itself soon, so that Jeff would actually clam up.
"...a hedgehog! I was amazed-Hey, do you smell something?"
"The gnomes sighed in relief when it became quite clear that Jeff was too busy sniffing the air to speak. After a second, they remembered they should probably be following his lead.
"...Beef?", Carson guessed.
"Burger meat, more like," Steve replied.
Shmebulock didn't bother, but if he had his full grasp of the language he would have argued an extremely tough and hardy form of steak, spit-roasted, with an undercurrent of parsley and onions (being unable to speak didn't mean unable to cook or take orders).
"It's definitely cow-based," continued Jeff, looking in the scent's apparent direction. "But it's not in the direction of the town. In fact...aha!"
There, right off the path a couple miles , was a tiny little fire. Straining their hearing, the gnomes could hear a contented voice humming a simple song.
"Yep, unless Bob just forgot to tell us he was camping, I think we found our thief!" Jeff, feeling relieved and not just a tad bit more confident now that he knew that the thief was gnome-sized, strode forward.
A little closer, a few more things could be made out. For one, the fire wasn't that small, it was just was hidden by a large log-looking thing. For another, off to the side, there seemed to be a rather large amount of thorns growing out of a pond. On the very edge of the pond, almost like a wall. Or a doorway.
For Jeff's purposes though, it was the humanoid form in front of the fire, a little taller than a gnome, lost in whatever activity required fire and jerky.
"Hey you! Yes you, by the fire!"
The humming voice briefly stopped, but any hopes of the thief turning around were quickly dashed when he started singing for real.
"Alloutette, gentille alouette, alloutette, je te plumerai…"
Jeff brought a hand to his face. "Ah heck, he's Canadian. Does anyone know any French? Or charades?"
Jeff shrugged. "Okay then. Improve it is." He cleared his throat.
"Je te plumerai la tête, je te plumerai la tête…"
Okay Jeff. Remember what the phrasebook said...what wasn't torn out of it.
"Désolé! Je appartiens à vous!"
The singing stopped.
"Do you now?"
Jeff's beard-hair stood on end. That voice was a lot more menacing when he wasn't singing. Even and deep, like a cave had suddenly grown vocal cords. "Erm, yeah. We kind of own that wood, and-"
"So you're pledged to belong to whoever takes your stuff? Odd, but there's stranger ownership laws."
Jeff suddenly realized he probably needed to steal a better phrasebook. "Er, no, what I meant was...was...uhh…."
The figure had turned around. And stood up.
He wasn't particularly big, as far as forest creatures went. In fact, by most scales, he was rather small-about the size of a large tween human. Still that was three times as big as most gnomes, all of it sleek defined muscle. He may have been larger, but rather than walk, he loped-crouched and constantly poised to strike like a cat.
His eyes shone like a cat's too, flashing green as he loped a little closer.
It took Jeff a few seconds to realize that the shape over the fire had shifted too. Almost like it was being carried a bit closer.
"Uh...I mean absolutely no offense here, but, uh, I don't know...what do you mean pledges?"
"Oh? So you aren't hedge-born then?" The figure loped a little closer, drawing something out of an unseen pocket. "Hm. Brothers? Maybe we should save our latest for the lean times?"
"Better plan, Boscage," began another voice, raspy and oddly, feminine. "We get the little men to tell us where the rest of them is, then we save for the lean times."
"Or, we go back to eating this, then back to our old task," said a third voice, who by the tone, was very irritated by the the proceedings. "That ogre ain't gonna trap himself."
"...Actually you know what," Jeff began, starting to step backwards. "You can keep the firewood, we never liked that jerky anyway. We'll be over here and-"
"It can wait Shmebulock, you know, back where it's-"
As Jeff turned around to fully run or stack on the other gnomes to run faster, he suddenly realized the oddball gnome wasn't looking at the rest of the group, but above it.
And remembered his standing order.
Bad choice, as it turned out. As soon as Jeff curled up, a woody, thorny vine had wrapped itself around his head. This wasn't as nearly as uncomfortable as it could be, given how this also had to get his torso by necessity, but still, the gnome was quickly yanged up into the trees, pitchfork flying away.
His lantern came with him though, so he got to see exactly who using the vine-trap.
Another figure, slightly taller than his compatriot on the ground, was crouched in the tree branches, a knife with a blade as long as his thigh in hand. On every patch of skin there was signs of deliberate scarring and piercings, jagged lines of healed burns and puncture wounds. The actual piercings seemed to be whatever vaguely sharp detritus he could find, from bones to small rocks to broken glass. Feathers from some strange bird were tied through his long, stringy hair, and a bit of the vine that was now gripping (yes, gripping, this thing was animate, Jeff was sure) was threaded around and through his left fingers. Tied around his neck, the only garment except for a rather modest loincloth was a black snake-skin tied around his neck like a scarf-except it wasn't quite a snake-skin. It wasn't quite physical, as far as Jeff could tell.
More alarming, however, was his face. Besides the catlike eyes, now revealed to be all too human when they weren't refracting light, were his teeth. Pearly white, shining...and filed. To shark-like fangs.
The monster sniffed the gnome, who was too terrified to consider struggling, even when the tree-dwelling creature decided that wasn't good enough and taste-tested instead, an abnormally long tongue dragging itself up Jeff's face. Looking perturbed, the monster then prodded the gnome with the blunt end of his spear.
"Hard," the monster almost growled. "Bony."
"W-Well that would be my massive skull!" Jeff began, fully realizing he was grasping at straws. "If you're thinking what I think you are, gnome really isn't a good meal at all!"
"Well, see, we gnomes have t-this thing where, y'know, one dies by age or, uh, monster. Part of our, uh, funeral thing is that we take his wisdom back to the group, and uh-"
"Get to the point."
"Well, you see, even beyond grieving, I can tell you, cooking a gnome is not fun!"
The monster cocked his head, curiously.
"See, the head? Hardest part of a gnome's body," Jeff began, trying very hard not to stammer. "Which given how it's the largest part of a gnome's body, means that you aren't going to be able to get around it. I'm not saying this just to avoid getting eaten; preparing gnome is seriously a time-waster, particularly when you have an ogre problem. I mean we even have this joke where eating a gnome wastes less time-"
"Well, first you have to get this giant pot, enough to fit the entire gnome in because the neck bones are just as hard as the skull...which, now that I think about it means we have really tough spines too-"
"That will be all." The monster leaned over his branch. "This one's species is too bony for purposes of time."
Jeff heard the other monsters groan in dismay and annoyance. "Really, Gloomdrake? Too bony? You took your current name from a shadow dragon, and it's too bony?"
"Enough," Gloomdrake growled. "This thing has other uses than meat."
Jeff released the breath he had been holding. "THANK YOU! Thank you, you won't regret this, I swear I wouldn't want to be you after eating gnome-"
The unofficial leader's mouth could not close any faster without breaking the sound barrier.
"Now, little man. You're going to go back home, and tell nobody about us Teihiihan. If our latest prey's herd comes calling, you say you have no idea, and you make the other little men clam up. When we ask you for something in the next year and a day, you get it done. Otherwise…"
The monster tensed his fingers like a puppeteer. Almost like a dog following commands, the vine let Jeff look below him, at the shape that was being carried one-handed by two of the other monsters.
The shape that used to be a Manotaur, at least before what looked to be a series of wooden spikes and rocks were done with him. Still in his hand was the missing jerky. Not still with him was a significant portion of his skin.
"That will happen to you. While you're still alive. Do we have a deal?"
Jeff could not nod fast enough. He almost didn't feel the warm wind almost coil itself around his hand, or hear the winding of a clock.
"And the pact is set." The Teihiihan grinned, a jovial bear trap. "See you around."
The vine came to life again, and threw the gnome in the direction the other gnomes had scattered. He somehow managed to hit the ground running.
A Gravity Falls/New World of Darkness Crossover
Shadows of the Falls
A/N: Gravity Falls is the property of Disney, the New World of Darkness belongs to Onyx Path/White Wolf. Feel free to ask me non-spoiler lore info in the reviews or over PM. It's just that there's not a lot I can say, since this is a mystery story.