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Rosemary Scented Secrets


Gerrard
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The bright moon of Luna loomed heavily over the city of Canterlot on a cool winter evening. The celestial body did it's best to illuminate the dark city as it reflected the light of the sun onto the capital of Equestria, shimmering a thin coat of light over the city before it would eventually be overcome by a thick blanket of clouds. The cheerful city would quickly be plunged into a cold driven darkness as an impending snowstorm threatened to bury the city in a layer of frozen precipitation. The majority of Canterlot's citizens sought refuge in their homes, but like everything in life, there were always a few exceptions. A few strange characters wandered the city, gathering a few last minute supplies before the city closed up for the evening. If everything turned out well, there wouldn't be any, 'complications' to ruin the otherwise pleasant evening.

A lone unicorn stood outside the entrance of one of the many stores in Canterlot, the commercial establishment having many murals of fresh produce layered onto it's modest walls. The unicorn was draped in a dark hooded cloak that was only outmatched in colour by her jet black coat, the seemingly cold impervious pony trotted into the store for reasons unknown. Her keen crimson eyes scanned over the shelves of the establishment as she quickly made her way to the rear of the store. The unicorn was quickly met by what seemed to be the store manager, a well dressed earth pony with no particularly outstanding physical features. The two seemed to speak for a brief moment and as quickly as their meeting had started, it seemed to end as her long black horn glowed a dark red. With a few deft magical movements, a small bag, of what could only be described as bits by the distinct jingling noise it made, was quickly transferred from her possession into the storekeepers as some sort of payment was made.

Her gesture was requited with a simple nod from the clerk as she made her way towards the exit of the store, her intentions unclear as she nonchalantly looked over the shelves of the store as she made her exit. Before slipping out of the store and into the night, a quick flick of her scarlet tail was visible to the keen eyes of any watchful citizen as she swiped a large container of rosemary off a shelf and quickly tucked it back away under cloak as she took a few steps out of the store. It seemed as if she had stolen the valuable item with no regard to the person she had just paid off earlier. Was she not a thief, or was this mare just an uncaring criminal with no disregard for anyone?

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[colour=#000000]Ardent Fate was hungry--moreover she was cold. Neither were things she was at all unaccustomed to, but both together were taxing on a very young filly. Fate hated the winter months; on her own without a place to go, the harshness of the frigid cold could be downright frightening. The storm that was brewing across the horizon loomed heavily over the trembling filly's thoughts as she trudged through the snowy Canterlot streets. The city seemed empty and that emptiness made her feel more alone than was usual. She was sure this would break most ponies her age, but she was different. She had to be.

She had a dream! She had a goal. She had something that she was positive would push her over any hurdle. No snow storm could quell the fierce heart of a champion! She was her father's daughter. She was a champion! If she kept her focus keen and her resolve pure there were no limits to what she could achieve. The hardships of her life, her own failure--they were all just tests for her to overcome. This storm, this cold--it was no exception. She just needed to stay true to herself. Light would surely shine on the knightly and virtuous! To get through this, she would need to act! If she worked past her troubles and proved her knightly mettle the next page in her glorious legend would write itself.

Her father's sword heavy as it always was on the back of the oversized, worn out and damp traveler's cloak she wore, the few cherished possessions she owned-- including the letter of well wishes penned to her by Celestia herself and her first place Iron Pony ribbon-- stuffed safely in a cloak pouch, all leant to her a much needed and valued strength. Taking some deep breaths her cold and hunger disappeared and she felt as if she could do anything!

Or at least it did until she happened to make a random glance into a shop with produce murals on its walls. All at once her stomach began to rumble and her mouth water as she imagined the taste of the delicious veggies. Her body began to shiver from cold soon after. It wasn't until she was passed by a stranger that she managed to work through her stupor and regain some focus. Shaking herself off, she stared at this passing unicorn mare, who like her was dressed in a cloak. It was a dark cloak with the hood drawn up and the mare herself had a black cloak. Something about her just looked shady. Fate started into the store from a distance, watching her actions.

What she saw was definitely cause for alarm. The mare moved to the back of the store quickly and exchanged words with the store manager. The mare then seemed to offer up some bits to pay the manager before turning to leave the shop. Just before she did, however, right where Fate could see it, the mare reached out and took a jar of something from off the shelf and stashed it into her cloak as shiftily as possible. Fate gasped. Had she just witnessed a criminal act? She scarcely believed it! This was her chance though. She would bring this mare to justice and in doing so prove her mettle as a knight! Without a second's more consideration, the filly stepped after the mare as she exited the shop, ready to confront her.[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"Halt, cowardly villain! As one who has pledged my life to the cause of justice, I shall not standby and let you get away with your foul crime!"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Fate boldly announced herself in a impassioned voice.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Surrender yourself now or I will be forced to unsheathe my blade!"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she added, trying to sound as threatening as a small filly could.[/colour]
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The black unicorn was sure to lock the valuable container of rosemary into one of the saddle bags that were hidden beneath her cloak. It was unclear what sort of magic the strange thief knew, but a keen eyed unicorn could determine that she had great control over her telekinesis, the cowled figure manipulating her bag and her rosemary in one swift movement without looking at the objects in question. The mare paused ever so faintly as she entered the cold Canterlot air again, her body not even shivering from the sudden drop in temperature. The loud announcement of a filly entered her ears, tempering her movements, if only for the briefest of moments. It appeared that she had heard the filly, her had panning about quickly, almost as if she were looking for the criminal or the source of the voice. It almost seemed as if she had the audacity to assert that the young filly was a liar or mistaken as she didn't even respond to her bold claims.

She leisurely walked through the cold city, ignoring the presence of the small filly. The unicorn wasn't even trying to openly flee, her light canter showing no sense of fear or shame. Was she trying to challenge the young pony to some sort of fight, or did she not simply think the young pony was able to cause her any trouble regardless? The mare seemed to be headed towards the heart of the city, making no apparent attempt to find an escape route either. Perhaps the unicorn wasn't a criminal at all, but regardless, she ignored the order of the young filly and was acting extremely suspiciously as she left the filly to decide another course of action. The ponies of Canterlot seemed tucked away in their homes to avoid the poor weather, the best evidence to support this coming from the shy itself as sprinkles of snow began littering the city, slowing creating a blanket of white on the city.

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[colour=#000000]After issuing her commands, the angered filly opened her eyes wide expecting to see the mare turn to face up to her wicked deeds. Alas, no! the wretched thief had the gall to continue along her way! Fate was stunned. This untrustworthy criminal--how could she just try and walk away? It took a few seconds before Fate realized that this would be expected! A true criminal wasn't going to admit to her crimes. No, criminals were a cowardly lot. Expecting this criminal to be noble would just be proving all those horrible adults who called her a confused, naïve little foal right. She wasn't going to do that. No, she was to be Equestria's greatest knight and this was her next step in proving it![/colour]

[colour=#330099]"You can try and get away, but you will not flee the blade of justice!"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Fate announced as she galloped ahead, catching up to the mare. [/colour]

[colour=#330099]"Your luck has run out, miserable knave! If you hope to get away with your misdeed then you shall have to get through me!"[/colour][colour=#000000] she demanded as, in her full gallop, she finally got in front of the mare and faced her down.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Now! What will it be?"[/colour]
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The strange cowled mare seemed to near her destination, her tall body nearing an ice cream shop of all things. Crimson eyes peered up at the building, examining the closed restaurant, almost as if she were seeking entrance to it as well. Was it possible that the dastardly criminal was going to rob another store, even with an eager filly on her tail? Regardless of her intentions though, the strange unicorn paused as Fate seemed to demand her to stop. The cowled figure did not openly acknowledge the existence of 'knight' until she was faced down by the angry visage of the young pony.

An awkward silence filled the air as the two stared across to each other. The tension in the air was palpable as the two stood, ready to act if necessary. The light humming of magic filled the air as a dark red aura enveloped her cowl, carefully lowering it to reveal her stoic visage. The odd unicorn didn't seem to have the face of a criminal, one might even consider her beautiful by some standards. And yet she stood there, her mere presence almost seeming the deny the words of young pony. Her expression made it unclear if she had no shame, or was genuinely innocent. If she was indeed a criminal, this odd figure was either fearless, or remorseless. Her expression was one of complete apathy, even when pressured to explain herself. Lucky for Fate though, when directly addressed, the odd unicorn seemed willing to speak.

"I have committed no injustice today young pony. I must also explain that the use of deadly force is explicitly outlawed in all but the most dire of circumstances. If you wish to dole out justice to criminals, it wise to verify that a crime has taken place to begin with. The only crime I could be committing would be a failure to notify a guard about a child out after curfew, and I am not sure if I should follow through with such a course of action," she commented coldly to filly, her words seeming to lack no doubt as they tactfully shifted from point to point. The unicorn had the audacity to assert that Fate was the true criminal here, even after seeming to rob a store and eye up another. Something about the entire situation was amiss and the unicorn's unwillingness to accept Fate's judgement made the who situation more tense.

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"I have committed no injustice today young pony. I must also explain that the use of deadly force is explicitly outlawed in all but the most dire of circumstances. If you wish to dole out justice to criminals, it wise to verify that a crime has taken place to begin with. The only crime I could be committing would be a failure to notify a guard about a child out after curfew, and I am not sure if I should follow through with such a course of action."

[colour=#000000]Fate fumed. Of course the criminal was going to deny it! if this was an honest pony, why would they be a thief. Nope, this pony was a liar. Moreover she was trying to weasel the guilt onto Fate with that insufferable and stupid adult logic that so often got tossed her way. "Children shouldn't be out this late!", "Is that sword real?", "You shouldn't be playing with something so dangerous!", "Run along to your parents little one."... Fate was so sick of all of it. Just because they were bigger adults always thought they could tell her what to do. So what if she wasn't grown up yet? She was getting there, and by the time she was and she was positive by the time she did get there she was already gonna be Equestria's greatest champion. Then all of them will have nothing to say to her but sorry! [/colour]

[colour=#330099]"You can try to deny it or shift the discussion away from your guilt, but I know what I saw with my own eyes!"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Fate challenged the mare's words.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"I caught you redhoofed committing a nefarious criminal deed!"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]She stomped her little hoof and lowered her head before her narrowing her eyes.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"As a dedicated knight (in training) of Celestia, it is my duty to see that you are made to pay for what you have done!"[/colour][colour=#000000] she huffed in a cold voice.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"I do not wish to hurt anypony, but if you refuse to come quietly, I will be left with no choice in the matter!"[/colour]

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The unicorn paused for a moment, the mare thinking over the actions of her day. The 'criminal" oddly seemed open to the idea, the silent mare seeming to deliberate over the possibility that she actually did break the law. It would be rude to call the filly a liar, but since the black unicorn could not recall breaking the law, she decided that one of them was mistaken.

"Lady... May I ask for your name? I feel that having a certain familiarity between us may relieve the tension in your body. You may call me Asteria," she explained with her usual calm demeanor. Her sudden shift in discussion was odd, the mare almost seeming to attempt to befriend the young pony. Was it all a lie? Was that even her name? It wasn't the most conventional of pony names.

When Ardent spoke of catching the unicorn red hoofed, her head slightly cocking to the side as if to inform the filly that the made didn't understand the expression. "My hooves are black. Perhaps you are referring to my tail, which is a shade of red. It is an understandable mistake," she commented in her usual serious manner as she failed to grasp the obvious meaning of the expression. It seemed that the 'thief' was either ignorant of the saying or purposefully toying with her accuser.

After listening to her accuser claim the mare had stolen something, she blinked after understanding the perspective of the filly. "Theft occurs when someone takes an object without properly compensating its owner. If you were observing me, you would have noticed that I compensated the owner prior to my retrieval of said item," the unicorn claiming to have actually bought the item. Her story was a bit strange though, if she did speak the truth, why did she take the item in secret. It seemed like her words created more questions than they solved.

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"Lady... May I ask for your name? I feel that having a certain familiarity between us may relieve the tension in your body. You may call me Asteria,"

[colour=#000000]Fate stared at the mare suspiciously, sure she was trying to pull something. This mare seemed kind of strange, even compared to other adults. it was like there was something off with her. She didn't like it. No, not one bit. She gave a short huff and shook her head. She was obviously trying to weasel out of her crimes by acting all friendly. Fate wasn't going to fall for that. No, she'd give her name, but she wasn't about to give this mare the satisfaction or anything else. She would not go unpunished![/colour]

[colour=#330099]"I am called Fate. Ardent Fate, (future) knight-errant of the Destrier Order and greatest champion of the realm!"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she declared, boldly, more tense than before.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Candied words will not buy you leniency in the eyes of justice!"[/colour]

"My hooves are black. Perhaps you are referring to my tail, which is a shade of red. It is an understandable mistake,"

[colour=#000000]This was also a weird thing to say. Of course her hooves weren't actually red! It was an expression, an expression and adult would know. This was seriously a weird thief. Now she was trying to belittle her with jokes, wasn't she? The nerve! Fate pounded her hoof to the ground in disdain, making it clear she wasn't going to fall for the cheap tricks. All the while she continued to stare the mare down intently. [/colour]

"Theft occurs when someone takes an object without properly compensating its owner. If you were observing me, you would have noticed that I compensated the owner prior to my retrieval of said item,"

[colour=#000000]Now it just got weirder. Fate had never actually accused this pony of being a thief. Not yet. She had just accused her of a criminal deed and said she would pay for her actions. Had that confused this odd mare somehow? Or had her mind just gone to thievery because she was so clearly and obviously guilty! She could deny it all she wanted, but she was sure they both knew the truth. Fate was going to prove this mare was a thief; she could just tell it.[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"Ha! I never said anything about theft! it's suspicious that that's where your mind goes so readily..." [/colour][colour=#000000]Fate said with repeated nods.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"It almost sounds like a confession of guilt!"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Fate gave an energetic full bodied jump ahead and a deep laugh.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Face it, you are a thief! You can try and deny it all you want, but your behavior is really suspicious like!"[/colour][colour=#000000] she insisted in a loud voice.[/colour]

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Asteria stood before Ardent Fate in her usual calm demeanor, her tall body towering over the young filly as she patiently listened to her explanation. There was no immediate sign of tension in her body, the peculiar unicorn not seeming even remotely stressed as she was repeatedly interrogated and accused by the young 'knight'. If Fate spoke the truth, ice must have run through the veins of the mare to keep such a calm composure. "It is an honor to meet you Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm. While I may be ignorant of your deeds and accomplishments, I trust that your exploits are all of great significance," she politely remarked, the mare doing a subservient bow before the young filly. It was unclear if she spoke truthfully, but for one reason or another, the odd unicorn did not deny the bold claims of the filly.

The mare cocked her head to the side when the eager filly claimed to have caught her in a trap of declaring her guilt. It was her way of expressing confusion while she gathered her thoughts for an appropriate response. "While you did not explicitly state that I stole something, I have done no other actions that could be misconstrued as a crime. That is unless you have been secretly following me for more than a few hours. Beyond that time, I am unsure of how my actions may have been interpreted. My response was simply designed to address the only plausible action of mine that could be interpreted as criminal, it is not an admission of guilt. If you wish, I could notify a guard to verify your claims. I have a receipt for the object in question if you believe that I stole it," she commented calmly, her voice showing no sign of fear, anger or even concern as she defended herself.

Her long black horn glowed a deep red as she deftly slipped a receipt out of her bag and presented it to the filly. The paper clearly stated "large rosemary powder container" and had the price of thirty bits on it, quite the price for an herb. The receipt seemed to follow the accepted style for an object of it's kind, nothing about it seeming wrong. The receipt even matched the name of the store that the item had been taken of. She seemed to have proof of her purchase, unless it was a forgery of some kind as well. Her story was plausible at least, but it was still up to the filly to decide it further.

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"It is an honor to meet you Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm. While I may be ignorant of your deeds and accomplishments, I trust that your exploits are all of great significance,"

[colour=#000000]Fate was stunned. This mare was super weird. Other foals sometimes believed her when she made her grand introduction, or at least went along with it, but adults never did. They always just chided her and told her to cut it out and stop playing around. Did this mare truly believe her, or...! She was just leading Fate along to trick her! Yes, this was a wily, deceptive mare. She would stoop to any trick to get her way. Fate nodded several times repeatedly. Truly this was a very dangerous criminal mastermind. Fate needed to proceed with upmost caution around this one. She couldn't let herself be deceived.[/colour]

"While you did not explicitly state that I stole something, I have done no other actions that could be misconstrued as a crime. That is unless you have been secretly following me for more than a few hours. Beyond that time, I am unsure of how my actions may have been interpreted. My response was simply designed to address the only plausible action of mine that could be interpreted as criminal, it is not an admission of guilt. If you wish, I could notify a guard to verify your claims. I have a receipt for the object in question if you believe that I stole it,"

[colour=#000000]The mare used a lot of words. Fate got kind of confused when lots of words got used at once. It could be hard for her to keep up. The mare eventually presented what she called a "re-seat". Fate wasn't exactly sure what a re-seat was or what it was supposed to mean. She wasn't a very educated filly, after all. Her foal years had been spent traveling the realm with her father, the gallant Destrier knight. She had been on her own for a while now, and there had never really been any schooling in her history. She knew how to talk like her father had and say the kinds of things in the Librum Dextarius that was supposed to be the Destrier's guide, but she did not have the knowledge and education of most fillies her age.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Looking at this so called re-seat, it looked like a piece of paper with some words written on them. She attempted to read them as best as she could.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"L-lar-larg-e ro-rose m-marry... p-... pow...der con... t-tainer..."[/colour] [colour=#000000]she strained as she looked it over. After the words there was a number. She was good with numbers. They were easier than words.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Thirty b-bits..."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Fate stared at the piece of paper inquisitively. She had no clue what this was supposed to mean. What were these words supposed to mean together? What was a rose marry? Was this supposed to be evidence that she had paid for that whatever it was the mare had stolen? Was that a rose marry? What was it for anyway? That store had had tasty veggies in it; why buy some strange container of knows what anyway? This mare was just weird and Fate had no clue what this piece of paper was supposed to be for. She had bought stuff before and when she gave her two bits to the stallion at the corner fruit stand for her apple she never got any papers back.[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"So that's your game, isn't it?"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she started, shaking herself out of her bewilderment and stomping her little hooves.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"You won't confuse me so easily. I may not know anything about re-seats or rose marriers but I know you were totally shifty back there! As a great champion, I shall not let you throw me off your trail!"[/colour]

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While it was unlikely that Fate was truly such a hero, Asteria had no evidence that proved the true identity of the filly. While it would have been easy to call the young pony a liar, Asteria simply decided to accept her word until the situation was more fully developed. It would have been rude to call Fate a liar, even if she was after all.

Asteria's fiery eyes watched over the filly as she almost seemed to disbelieve the response of the mare. The older pony could easily see the disbelief wash away into pure suspicion as the filly seemed to doubt her words again. She could tell that her words were incorrect, something they usually were. It seemed odd to her that anyone could feel better when called a liar, but Asteria would have to investigate this response further another day. When Fate gave the receipt a bewildered look and tried with limited success to read the paper, Asteria decided that further clarification would be in order, especially when she retorted fervently. A normal person would have started to get irritated from her ceaseless accusations and denial of reality, but this unicorn wasn't exactly your normal adult.

"Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm. A receipt is a proof of purchase given out at stores for further documentation. If there is a defect, or you find your product unsatisfactory, the item and the receipt can usually be returned to the store and traded back in for it's original purchase price. That is the standard rule of item returns in Equestria, there are exceptions where necessary. One such being when the damage is caused by the buyer, or if the product is consumed to a predetermined level. Rosemary is an herb used in medicine or culinary endeavors. While thirty bits may be a lot, such a price is fair for such a large and heavy quantity of rosemary," she explained calmly to the filly. It was clear that Asteria wasn't very familiar with dealing with children due to her lack of vocabulary adaption to the filly she was talking to.

When she spoke of a game, the black mare cocked her head to the side again, sending another signal of confusion to the young filly. "Game? I am not familiar with the game you speak of. Are you asking for me to play pretend with you? I have pressing business to attend to, but I would be willing to indulge you in a game of your choosing when I finish. My delivery is to be in secret, and to a client who wishes to remain anonymous. I am afraid that you may not follow me further unless you promise to maintain the confidentiality of my employer," she added, giving no immediate sign of her destination as her gaze remained locked on the filly. If anything was clear about the mare, it was that she was the type who would could disguise her mannerisms perfectly, when she chose to anyway.

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"Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm. A receipt is a proof of purchase given out at stores for further documentation. If there is a defect, or you find your product unsatisfactory, the item and the receipt can usually be returned to the store and traded back in for it's original purchase price. That is the standard rule of item returns in Equestria, there are exceptions where necessary. One such being when the damage is caused by the buyer, or if the product is consumed to a predetermined level. Rosemary is an herb used in medicine or culinary endeavors. While thirty bits may be a lot, such a price is fair for such a large and heavy quantity of rosemary,"

[colour=#000000]Fate's head spun at all the big words. Talking to this mare was exhausting. It took all of Fate's knightly training to keep herself standing strong as she was assaulted with wave after wave of hard to comprehend words. As it continued, the attack proved more exhausting to the filly than any of the tough physical training she had endured. All the same, she did her best to make sense of what was being said, but it was still kinda confusing. The re-seat apparently was given to you when you by stores but then you gave it back to the store and then you got money or something. This seemed kind of silly to Fate. Didn't you give money to a store, not the other way around? Why would they give you something for paper that they gave you themselves? Then again the only thing she ever really had to buy was food. [/colour]

[colour=#000000]The explanation of what the rose-mary was was equally baffling. What was an herb and what did culinary mean? Did it mean you could eat it? Probably not. She knew what medicine was and that it usually tasted nasty. Her only conclusion was that this rose-mary was not something she had any use for, and especially not at thirty bits, not with all the tasty apples she could buy with that much.[/colour]

"Game? I am not familiar with the game you speak of. Are you asking for me to play pretend with you? I have pressing business to attend to, but I would be willing to indulge you in a game of your choosing when I finish. My delivery is to be in secret, and to a client who wishes to remain anonymous. I am afraid that you may not follow me further unless you promise to maintain the confidentiality of my employer,"

[colour=#000000]Fate tilted her head aside in confusion. Why was this mare offering to play with her now? This was a strange adult. Was she mocking her now? it was hard to tell sometimes. Adults often did call her a silly foal playing pretend though... so probably. She certainly wasn't going to let this criminal mare get away. Nope she was definitely suspicious, no matter what she was trying to prove with this re-seat of hers.[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"I won't relent until you have turned yourself in, lawbreaker!"[/colour] she declared boldly. [colour=#330099]"If you insist on being difficult and hiding behind your bold talk of suspect re-seats, I shall just have to follow you and witness your no doubt criminal exchange!"[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"Should I see no reason for concern, I will happily 'maneitane your confedinitialitoly' or whatever it is you said,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said with a huff. [/colour]

[colour=#000000]Fate took a ready to follow stance and nodded. After a moment's pause, she continued.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"In the meantime, tell me more of this urb of yours. Why would a pony pay thirty bits for medicine? Don't you know how much tasty food a pony could buy with that?"[/colour]

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Asteria watched the filly as she struggled to comprehend the words of the older pony. It seemed that the young 'knight' was having trouble with the information for one reason or another. It was possible that her youth and inexperience hadn't prepared her for the words of the unicorn, but the mare didn't want to write her off as uneducated, such an assumption only serving a disservice to the dark unicorn. Regardless of the reason for their disconnect, Asteria was a busy pony, criminal or not. Her client needed the delivery soon and additional discussion with the child was not advised if she wished to arrive promptly at her destination. "I must take my leave and deliver this product to my client. I will allow you to follow, but please do not divulge the identity of my client. Please respect their desire to maintain the secret formula for their product," Asteria commented with her usual big words, the mare not the type to assume someone was unable to understand her.

The tall unicorn carefully advanced towards the rear of a building that had a large sign hanging over the front of the main entrance this store. It was impossible to determine what the store was from this angle, but a Canterlot native could probably identify the store as one of the famed ice cream shops from the silhouette of an ice cream cone. "Some products have a myriad of uses. While it can be used in medicine, it can also be used as in ingredient in cooking. It adds a distinct taste to the food it is applied to if used in specific quantities. Thirty bits is expensive, but this is enough of the herb to last a business over one month. It can be seen as an investment. By spending thirty bits on these herbs, the store owner hopes to make their product worth over thirty additional bits. If they succeed in doing so, they will have made more bits than they spent on this capital," she explained calmly to the young filly. The mare gave Fate a lesson in economics, a subject that the pony wouldn't probably know about, even if she did go to school. Even if the knight didn't know what the unicorn was talking about, one thing was probably clear. Asteria's voice never seemed to change, almost perpetually stuck on the same eerie tone. Despite saying a lot, the unicorn didn't mention anything about the store as she approached the back door, the black pony carefully opening the door with a keen use of her magic. The red aura grasped the door knob and carefully rotated it until the entrance was open to the the 'criminal mastermind'.

The door revealed the kitchen area of some shop. A friendly looking white unicorn mare was carefully mopping the floor of the establishment, with a deft use of her yellow magic aura. As the door opened, she panned her head over to Asteria, her blue eyes widening as she spotted the cowled courier. "Asty! I'm glad to see you, I almost ran out of, you know what!" she commented in secret, giggling a bit. The store keeper seemed in good spirits, oblivious to the young pony who thought she might be a crime lord of some kind.

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"I must take my leave and deliver this product to my client. I will allow you to follow, but please do not divulge the identity of my client. Please respect their desire to maintain the secret formula for their product."

[colour=#000000]Fate wasn't sure she understood what the mare was talking about, but she nodded regardless and followed along. Sure, this pony was likely taking her to pass off her stolen goods with some shady criminal, and Fate didn't intent to allow that, but she was going to try her best to be quiet for now. She would worry about her course of action once she knew for sure what was happening. For now, she just followed the mare and listened as she continued to speak.[/colour]

"Some products have a myriad of uses. While it can be used in medicine, it can also be used as in ingredient in cooking. It adds a distinct taste to the food it is applied to if used in specific quantities. Thirty bits is expensive, but this is enough of the herb to last a business over one month. It can be seen as an investment. By spending thirty bits on these herbs, the store owner hopes to make their product worth over thirty additional bits. If they succeed in doing so, they will have made more bits than they spent on this capital."

[colour=#330099]"So it makes food taste better?"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Fate started. How curious. Was it some kind of magic dust? The idea was just foreign to her, what with her diet of whatever simple, inexpensive foods she could get her hooves on. [/colour]There was one part of it that she didn't like at all, however. "I don't like the last part though. It makes the food cost thirty more bits? That's terrible! No one could afford anything then!"[colour=#000000]Fate protested, almost offended by her misguided thoughts of thirty bit rosemary covered apples. [/colour]

[colour=#000000]As they talked, the two continued on their way and soon approached a shop. It didn't seem like the place for a back alley black market transaction to take place. No, it looked like a normal shop. No, not just normal! The shape on the sign, Fate remembered it from her days with her father. He had always been a frugal man, in keeping with the tenants of his knightly code, but on occasion he would splurge and treat his beloved daughter to a tasty treat. The miraculous smooth, cool treat known as ice cream was something Fate was quite fond of, even if it was not a snack she was able to indulge herself in very often on her own. It was too pricy and not as substantive as apples. Still, as they walked into the shop's kitchen, Fate found herself once more aware of her intense hunger. While the cold of the winter perhaps made the frozen treat an odd choice for the day, the filly still felt a craving in being around the stuff. She wanted some.[/colour]

"Asty! I'm glad to see you, I almost ran out of, you know what!"

[colour=#000000]Someone from the shop approached them. This unicorn was clearly the one receiving the goods. Was she a criminal too? It was hard to tell. Fate was conflicted and she wasn't sure what to believe anymore. Being a knight was hard sometimes. Who did she believe? What did she trust? What should she do? Her rumbling empty stomach sealed it for her. She gave a cough and stepped ahead.[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"How very curious! I do wonder if this deal is truly on the level..."[/colour] [colour=#000000]she started, nodding her head quietly at Asteria.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Perhaps a test is in order? I think it's rather obvious that if you are truly not a criminal mastermind, you would surely buy me some ice cream!"[/colour][colour=#000000] the filly declared, her demands likely only making sense to herself.[/colour]

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The white mare brushed her blonde mane to the side as she peered around her stoic friend to spot the cute little crusader. She looked the filly over before looking back to Asteria. A mischievous grin spread across her maw as some thoughts entered her mind. "You never told me that you had a filly of your own. Whose the father, is it the griffon friend of yours? Where is your beak at kiddo?" she teased playfully, the less serious unicorn leaning forward as she faked looking for a beak.

Asteria remained focused on business, turning her attention back to the filly. "I am not qualified to make objective conclusions on taste, but I can subjectively state that it changes the taste of the ice cream, she calmly explained, the made seeming to have infinite patience as she dealt with her two lighter coloured counterparts.

"Lady Lemon, Sir Gerrard is only an ally. I have had no physical relations with him that I am aware of. This filly believes that I am a thief, set out here to deliver stolen goods to you," she explained in her usual dry style of speaking. As she finished explaining herself to the other adult, Asteria returned her attention to Fate, needing to address her comments on free food.

"Wouldn't a criminal be more likely to give free food in attempt to avoid suspicion? I believe that many people would avoid paying a bribe to someone who accuses them of a crime they did not commit," she explained seeming to rationalize her denial of the greedy request.

Miss Lemon giggled at the spectacle and quickly presented the filly with some yellow flavoured ice cream. "You are so serious Hasty. Loosen up and have soon ice cream. The rosemary makes it bitter or sour like a real lemon, she explained, presenting it to Asteria as well.

Oddly, the stoic mare seemed to stare down the ice cream as if it were poison. She might have been on a diet or possibly disliked lemons. It was unclear why she seemed reluctant to eat it, but one thing was clear, she wasn't eating.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"I am not qualified to make objective conclusions on taste, but I can subjectively state that it changes the taste of the ice cream,"

[colour=#000000]This comment made young Fate's head spin. What was a subjectively? Why did this shady mare have to use so many words Fate didn't know?! It was frustrating and made her feel dumb. It also just made her all the more suspicious. Hiding behind enigmatic words like that! Fate didn't like it one bit[/colour]!

"You never told me that you had a filly of your own. Whose the father, is it the griffon friend of yours? Where is your beak at kiddo?"

"Lady Lemon, Sir Gerrard is only an ally. I have had no physical relations with him that I am aware of. This filly believes that I am a thief, set out here to deliver stolen goods to you,"

[colour=#000000]Fate just tilted her head in further confusion at this exchange. Beak? Why would she have one of those? Also, this new mare was yet another adult intent to call her a kid and talk down to her. The black mare certainly hadn't been doing that at least. Either way, she wasn't sure how to respond to these two. She just knew she wanted some ice cream. That was the one thing that was ultimately clear to her.[/colour]

"Wouldn't a criminal be more likely to give free food in attempt to avoid suspicion? I believe that many people would avoid paying a bribe to someone who accuses them of a crime they did not commit,"

[colour=#000000]Fate froze for a moment, not sure how to respond to this. A bribe? But that was bad wasn't it? She didn't do bad stuff. She was a champion of justice. No, clearly this mare misunderstood her intent![/colour]

[colour=#330099]"Bribe? Ha! That's not what this is at all! I am Ardent Fate, (future) great knight and champion of justice! I would never stoop so low as something so petty and criminal as bribery. No, this is a test of your virtue! A righteous mare on the side of good would obviously show unto me the charity and compassion I deserve and get for me the tasty ice cream I want"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Fate said boldly. it really made sense to her when she said it. Yeah, this wasn't a bribe at al! How could anyone think that? She was totally just being the awesome knight she was destined to be.[/colour]

"You are so serious Hasty. Loosen up and have soon ice cream. The rosemary makes it bitter or sour like a real lemon."

[colour=#000000]The other mare spoke up then and... to Fate's ultimate delight put a serving of ice cream into her hooves. Fate stared at it for a moment, enticed by its sweet aroma. Her incredible hunger returned to her in full and she began to salivate. Without a second thought she brought the ice cream to her face and began to rapidly engulf it, savoring its sweet yet somewhat sour flavour. The entire serving was gone within seconds. It was so yummy too! She had to say it was even better than the kind her father used to buy her. She stomped her little hooves in delight as she licked up the last of it.

Then she looked back at Asteria. Huh? She hadn't eaten hers yet. Why not? Didn't she know it was amazing and delicious? Did she not want it? If so... that would be quite convenient....[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"Are you not going to eat it...?"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Fate asked with a vacant smile. [/colour]"[colour=#330099]If so, I will gladly do my knightly duty and take it off of your hands so as it does not go to waste," [/colour][colour=#000000]she said nodding rapidly.[/colour]

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"You wish to test my virtue by seeing if I will selflessly donate food to you? Doesn't that seem more in your interest, than the interest of virtue? Perhaps there is something here that I simply am unable to comprehend?" Asteria commented, the odd mare feeling that there was a chance that the knight was being selfish. Regardless of what it seemed like, the odd mare kept open the possibility that she was wrong, deciding to not outright call the filly a bully.

The white mare watched Fate eat her ice cream, the young filly stomping her hooves in delight as she enjoyed her unique cold treat. Miss Lemon giggled at the spectacle of her two guests, the filly eager to devour all the food she could get her hooves on, while Asteria was hesitant to eat anything at all. "Yeah, Asteria cares too much about her lady-like figure to eat any ice cream, she is a stick in the mud," the storekeeper explained, drawing the gaze of her courier friend.

"The nutritional content of ice cream does not merit the time investment required to shed the excess weight it would attribute to my body," Asteria explained, getting a giggle from her adult friend as the black mare essentially affirmed what the blonde mare had said. When Fate practically begged for her ice cream, Asteria turned her attention back to the young knight and presented the food to her. "You may have my food, but be aware that eating too much ice cream could be unhealthy if you do not get adequate exercise," she warned in her usual apathetic sounding voice, the mare never seeming to sound too enthralled as her voice was locked at a predetermined tone.

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"You wish to test my virtue by seeing if I will selflessly donate food to you? Doesn't that seem more in your interest, than the interest of virtue? Perhaps there is something here that I simply am unable to comprehend?"

What was this crazy pony talking about. Fate was right! She had to be right. She was to be a great knight. She knew of virtue and good deeds. There was no way this was selfish at all! She just wanted this pony to give her ice cream. There was nothing wrong with that, was there? Of course not.

[colour=#330099]"The Librum Dextarius, the guidebook by which any good knightly champion of the Destrier lives by tells of the virtue of charitable deeds. Feeding the hungry is a charitable deed, and I am hungry so of course feeding me ice cream is always going to be virtuous," [/colour]Fate started with gradually diminishing confidence, her voice becoming quieter. After a pause, she spoke in a less sure voice. [colour=#330099]"So of course I'm right and this is a good deed. It has to be... especially if I end up with ice cream... because it's tasty. it just makes perfect sense."[/colour]

It made perfect sense to Fate at least....

"Yeah, Asteria cares too much about her lady-like figure to eat any ice cream, she is a stick in the mud,"

"The nutritional content of ice cream does not merit the time investment required to shed the excess weight it would attribute to my body. You may have my food, but be aware that eating too much ice cream could be unhealthy if you do not get adequate exercise,"

Fate's eyes lit up when Asteria said she could have her ice cream. She snatched it away quickly and proceeded to engulf it just as quickly as her own. [colour=#330099]"Ugh..."[/colour] she stopped eating at a sudden sharp pain in her head and gave a small whimper. She waited a few moments for the feeling to pass and then began to eat the rest of the ice cream, but more slowly than before this time. Only when she was done did she look back up at the mare.

[colour=#330099]"Well, I'm a knight, so of course I get plenty of exercise! I'm training all the time. I can even hold the sword up for ten second now before it starts going all wobbly,"[/colour] Fate gleefully admitted, nodding along, still savoring the ice cream's refreshing flavour. [colour=#330099]"I don't get to eat a lot anyway."[/colour]

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Asteria paused, thinking back to her many years of schooling. The Librum Dextarius was mentioned in passing by many of the novels she had read, the unicorn never actually getting a chance to read a hard copy of the often cited book. It was referred to as essentially the guide of how to be a good person in the service of others, or at least that is what she had been told. The filly didn't seem to be lying about the contents of the book, granted all works of literature were up for some sort of interpretation. The courier paused, thinking over an appropriate response to her seemingly warped view of reality, the dark coated pony not wanting to come off in an offensive manner to the suspicious filly.

"Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm, I believe that you may benefit from a broader interpretation of the guidebook. "While it likely states charitable deeds that should be performed, they are meant to be performed by the knight, not for the benefit of the knight. A knight lives to serve the realm, not be served by the realm. While the book might state that feeding the hungry is virtuous, I don't think it is something that is meant to be forced upon others, especially for your own benefit. You are the expert who has read the entire guidebook though, so I will refrain from questioning your familiarity with the book. Please find it in your heart to forgive me if I am wrong," she explained calmly, trying to be objective, even apologizing in the event that she was somehow wrong and the filly was correct.

Asteria waited for a response from the filly, but noticed she was too engrossed in enveloping all the ice cream she could get her hooves on. The older mare opened her maw to warn the filly about the brain-freezes that accompany fast eating of cold foods but she was too late, Fate already succumbing to one. "A 'cold-stimulus headache occurs when you cool the roof of your mouth too much in too short of a time. Slower consumption of the food or allowing your mouth to acclimate to the temperature change will minimize the swelling and contraction in your mouth that causes the pain," she explained in a rather scientific manner, the odd mare seeming to be well schooled in a variety of fields. It seemed to beg a question about the odd mare though, in what areas did she lack, the tall courier surely not a flawless pony!

The storekeeper watched the entire spectacle and giggled as Asteria tried to explain what a brain-freeze was to the filly. It seemed unlikely that Fate would have any idea what Asteria was talking, the black unicorn not one to assume others were dumb or less educated than her. It of course would be rude to do so and the unicorn didn't want to insult anyone if it wasn't necessary. "Well kids, it's been fun. I'm closing up shop about two hours ago! Make sure your daughter doesn't get into any trouble and tell her father I say hi," she joked while handing her the payment for food, winking playfully at the courier as she shooed them out of her shop and back into the cold Canterlot air. Asteria waved goodbye before the door was locked behind them, the older mare pausing as she thought over her next course of action.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm, I believe that you may benefit from a broader interpretation of the guidebook. While it likely states charitable deeds that should be performed, they are meant to be performed by the knight, not for the benefit of the knight. A knight lives to serve the realm, not be served by the realm. While the book might state that feeding the hungry is virtuous, I don't think it is something that is meant to be forced upon others, especially for your own benefit. You are the expert who has read the entire guidebook though, so I will refrain from questioning your familiarity with the book. Please find it in your heart to forgive me if I am wrong,"

[colour=#000000]Fate stared at the mare questioningly. She just didn't comprehend what this pony was talking about. That must mean she didn't understand anything because it made perfect sense. Yep. It totally did.[/colour]

[colour=#330099]"That's right you're wrong! Me getting ice cream is good so you giving me ice cream has to be a good deed. I fail to see how it could possibly b eanything else!" [/colour][colour=#000000]she declared, seemingly having abandoned any semblance of a rational argument in favour of baseless childish assertions.[/colour]

"A 'cold-stimulus headache occurs when you cool the roof of your mouth too much in too short of a time. Slower consumption of the food or allowing your mouth to acclimate to the temperature change will minimize the swelling and contraction in your mouth that causes the pain,"

[colour=#000000]The mare said this when Fate got the sudden pain in her head. She didn't quite get all the big words, but because it hurt, she did consume the rest of the ice cream slower. It helped to reduce the pain some. Huh? If this pony was giving her good advice and giving her ice cream, maybe she really wasn't all that bad? Her suspicion was quickly starting to erode.[/colour]

"Well kids, it's been fun. I'm closing up shop about two hours ago! Make sure your daughter doesn't get into any trouble and tell her father I say hi,"

[colour=#000000]Fate looked up at these words and smiled at the other mare in the room.[/colour] [colour=#330099]"Thank you for making such good ice cream!" [/colour][colour=#000000]she said excitably. Then, putting on her usual knightly airs, she added, [/colour][colour=#330099]"Truly you are a virtue unto this realm."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Turning then to Asteria, not sharp enough to have picked up on the sarcasm intended in the comments, she tilted her head and stared questioningly once more. [/colour][colour=#330099]"I didn't know you had a daughter. Is she my age?"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she asked somewhat curious.[/colour]

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Asteria could tell that there was an obvious disconnect between them as the pair could not agree on. Instead of explaining herself more to the unwilling filly, the courier decided to simply accept her opinion as a valid possibility, as unlikely as it seemed. She had to pause for a moment, the mare not sure of the next course of action as she gathered her thoughts. "Perhaps you assertion is correct, forgive me for questioning your intentions," she commented simply for the filly, deciding to be less confrontative with the child.

She watched the filly follow her advice and eat her food slower, clearly suffering less from the brain freezes when she did so. The young pony seemed to approve of the tip, even if she did not openly state it. When Fate thanked the storekeeper, the white unicorn giggled and waved farewell, closing her doors as she left the pair outside in the dark of the night. "I am glad that you found the ice cream to your liking. Does this temper your resolve to indict me for alleged theft," she asked, wondering if the filly still questioned her intentions.

When asked about her alleged daughter, Asteria blinked and thought over how to respond to the obvious confusion in the filly. While Asteria normally didn't understand playful banter, she had heard this particular one from her friend before and understood the intent. "Lady Lemon was joking that you were my offspring. I have no children of my own, but she reasoned the only easy explanation of you being at my side was your identity being that of my child. The joke relies on the fact that it is very obvious that you are not my offspring," she explained in her usual controlled voice, not giving any hint that she was joking herself, something that basically never happened anyway.

"Do you require an escort to a local destination "Lady Fate, Knight-Errant of the Destrier Order, Greatest Champion of the realm? While I know that you are a prolific individual, fatigue and darkness can serve as an equalizer when harnessed by unscrupulous individuals," she added, seeming worried for the young filly as the night showed no signs of letting up.

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