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Golden Age Comics, Issue 2: Wednesday's Child


Kirby Krackle
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There was a twitch in Cookie Crumble's eye, as though there was much she was holding back. Not in a secretive sense, no. Emotionally. She had lost count of how many times she had been asked these questions. By her husband, bless him. By his underlings. By herself, even. Again and again, she wracked her brain trying to find any answer that may have escaped. Still nothing.

No, nothing. We know everypony here. And nothing smelled odd. I made everything myself, except for the pizza. She was just playing when I left. The room was so damn loud, all those stupid. And still, she was...” Her breathing was slowing, being conscious of each one, trying her hardest not to cry in front of her baby girl. “...just dead to the world. And it sounded like a damn toy store with everything going off at once!

She gathered her breath and took the extra moment to calm down. Once settled, she reached out with apparently magic to spare to dish out a slice of recently made lemon meringue pie to her daughter. Must be starving, the poor thing. Meanwhile, she was already preparing another. Her eyes weren't even on the eggs as she separated the whites from the yolks.

(( Secret rolling! And also I still need to redo some points on your sheet. Streetwise is a must and to be honest, a super scent power would be really cool to have permanently. It would offer a level of investigation that no other hero here has! And besides, you like Wolverine, right? ))

Amidst the symphony of aromas that was Cookie Crumble's kitchen, the only thing that Dusty Rhodes's talented shnozz could detect was... the proper care and handling of spices. In the big city, everything came pre-ground in a jar. But not in this mare's kitchen. That was whole nutmeg she had and she shaved it herself. Who does that anymore?

The Pagemaster fared poorly in his initial glow of the horn. There was no way that he could find a magical whisper while standing next to the booming speakers that was Cookie Crumble. However, he did have an affinity for paper and that hasn't failed him yet.

The bureaucrat counted exactly twelve toys scattered across the crime scene. His magic counted exactly thirteen shredded gift-wrapping. Dusty immediately pointed out the odd one in the bunch.

It was the only rainbow colored scrap that did not smell like it was from Doughton.

 

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The key to any successful venture was the proper organizing of the talents assigned to its completion.  Such was Quill Pusher's philosophy, and once again, it paid dividends!  An eye for paper and a nose for... well, pretty much anything, combined to create that most beautiful and elusive of things: a clue!

"Ah-ha..."  He murmured forcefully, levitating the 'odd-scrap-out' from the pile for closer examination.  "Now if we could just see wha the tag was for this..."  Hopefully the young filly hadn't scattered them too much, but if he could find the tag, he might find what the missing toy was.  And if he could find that out... one step closer to a happy family reunion!

Rolling Investigate to find the tag

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  • 5 weeks later...

MorningGlory.png

Morning Glory surreptitiously wiped at the corner of her mouth as that slice of lemon meringue went past... licked at her lips.  As a college student, Bravado was never too full to eat ... but Morning Glory couldn't seem to see food without her stomach reporting eagerly for duty.  "Quite a feast you have there, Miss Crumble," she said politely, doing her best for a benign smile.  But her eyes just kept wandering over the completed edibles.  "Your family is very lucky to have such a talented cook.  I'm sure that your youngest will be ever so grateful for that home-cooked food when we find her and return her to you."  Her stomach rumbled again, louder than before.  She silently shushed it.  Later.  Later.  Popcorn at the theatre, she promised it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No tag. Because, and let's be honest here, what self respecting filly-napper would leave their name and return address just lying about? But then, just because the perpetrator wasn't being a complete idiot doesn't also mean he was being perfect in his cleverness. There were clues to follow if one knew how, not where, to look.

 

The sheets were high gloss, reflecting all the ambient light in the room to the point where you could say it glows. It was also rather durable. This wrap job, neatest of the bunch, needed to be undone at spots where tape bound everything together. In comparison, Bittersweet's little hooves were all it took to shred the others into confetti. Clearly this was the good stuff. The kind you spend thirty Bits on, rather than five.

 

Curiouser though was the choice of design. Certainly it was a lovely one; a blue and gold diamond pattern with alternating white suns and black crescent moons. But when considers current events, this duality motif is in bad taste. So much so that once retailers were comfortable opening shop again, they were quick to discard any and all merchandise that even hinted at sympathy towards the Princess of the Night, lest they be branded as traitors.

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Upon reflection, it hadn't been likely that the villain would leave their calling card.  But you never knew.  Perhaps the filly was only supposed to be bait to lure the vigilantes of justice all into one trap.  Or if it was just a blind, even that might have given some clue into the thought processes of the foalnapper.  

Unfortunately for Pagemaster and company, things would not be so straightforward, and they would have to rely on the more gnomic clues offered by the wrapping itself.  "Hmm..."  The unicorn mused upon the quality, and pattern, of the paper.  "It's a pity this went out of style.  It's a very nice pattern.  Good quality, but the store probably had to put it out on clearance."  He sighed, seeing a future mostly consisting of sorting through sale advertisements and going to all the party and stationary merchants, tracking down purchasing orders.  But hey, that's what he was here for.  

He reported the findings and the rather painstaking plan to the rest of the group.  "Does anyone else have any suggestions, or should I just get to work on this lead?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

MorningGlory.png

Well, Cookie Crumble obviously wasn't in the mood for talking, nor wished other ponies in her kitchen, so Morning Glory quietly took herself away, looking uselessly around the house and trying to look like she knew what was going on.  There was no spell she knew that the forensics ponies wouldn't be able to do ten times better... sure, she had sheer power, but power was of absolutely no use here.

Thank GOODNESS Pagemaster came up with something?  Morning Glory sat down and listened attentively as he explained that he'd found a stray scrap of wrapping paper, assembled the rest of the bits, could put together the full page from the explosion of festive wrappings they'd seen out there.  "Well done, Pagemaster!" she said proudly. "And what did Chief Deputy Desserts say was in it?"

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  • 4 weeks later...

A hush fell over the household, all the hustle and bustle coming to a grinding halt. Suddenly, all eyes were on the Princess; the idea of dusting for prints or indents in the carpet seeming trivial. The faces of the law ponies were all twisted in bewilderment, as if all in unison asking the same question: Why didn't I think of that?

 

Just Desserts, stallion of action that he was, was the first to snap out of the stupor. Immediately he got the train of thought moving again, proud in knowing that their destination was getting closer. Finally. Both his darling wife and the police sketch artist were called over to the dining room table. Together, the two mares went back and forth, going through half a notebook's worth of sheets before their eureka moment.

 

The mystery gift, as Cookie described, was a music box. It was heart-shaped, with its bulk mostly comprised of a solid wood with innards lined in a soft red velvet. But the real selling point was the brass plating, depicting a romance between two dancers, all in improbable detail. Opening the lid would reveal a pair of tiny figures, metal cast, who would dance along with the music. Yes, actually dance. Cookie distinctly remembered the entire table watching in awe of these little machines moving with such grace and fluidity. It was impossible to imagine even the highest caliber magicians crafting something that small. And it was as they all wondered that they had all fallen asleep.

 

But what I don't understand”, Cookie added at the end, “is where the music box came from.

 

The rest of the guests were in complete agreement. They all recalled this mystery gift once its likeness was on paper in front of them. But none knew from whom it was sent. For starters, such a gift was probably out of the budget for everypony up to the Mayor.

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Pagemaster gave a low whistle as the gift was described.  "Fine work indeed.  I know of only one pony who could lay his hooves on the bits for such a gift... and we arrested him a little while ago.  I trust Maxie Million's accounts are all either emptied or frozen?"  The bureaucrat was already certain that they were, but it didn't hurt to be doubly so.  In any case, if the accounts were emptied by criminal elements, then the city wouldn't have been able to prevent them being used for this.  On the other hoof, proving a connection would be a huge leap of a lead.

 

But there was another path to search along as well.  It's all very well to have the money, but what about the mechanical skill involved?  Who here would know anything about-

Pagemaster's eyes lit upon the heretofore-silent bat-pony.  "I don't know if you make your gear yourself, but I think you might know ponies in the city who have that kind of know-how to make such devices.  Or, at least, you know somepony who knows somepony."

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Star Flight was frustrated, not sure where the next step was. He was used to being with others who knew the best routes for questioning. Though the one shining through here was PageMaster. He walks out of the kitchen, spotting the wrapping paper and the flurry of movement. He listened to the description, seeing the sketch of the music box. He thinks maybe the paper as how few would use something with the moon would be the best clue.

 

 "I don't know if you make your gear yourself, but I think you might know ponies in the city who have that kind of know-how to make such devices.  Or, at least, you know somepony who knows somepony."

 

Nightguard was about to open his mouth and deny knowing anything, as he certainly wasn't going to tell them about his sister, the only pony who he knew who would know anything about this... except she's far too likely to make something catch fire in her lab to do something this delicate. However, as his mind sets on the topic of his sister, he remembers back to a trip in the city. Moonlit Forge was calling his name over. She went on far beyond anything he could comprehend, listening how it's far too small for any pony to normally do and that this was masterpiece work. Honestly Star's eyes glazed over as Forge went on, but he never forgot the shop or the box in case some miracle he could afford one for her. You know... when Princess Luna came back.

 

"I've seen this before." he looks to Just Desserts and Cookie Crumble, his voice in the official pattern he knows all too well "You two remain here. There is always a chance your daughter will come back on her own, and you need to be here. Take care of your daughter and we will be back as soon as we know anything" He thinks on Just Desserts is probably all too familiar delivering the same sort of line, but then again, hope for one professional to understand another. He calls out to the other vigilantes "Let's go. I know a place to look."

 

"And where is that bat-wing? We're coming along too."

 

Nightguard tenses up in anger at what the cop called him, a pegasus. Of course they would want to follow along. Before that moment, he already didn't want them along. Now it's especially so. He turns to the room full of the cops and and responds "The four of us are going to go follow the clue. The rest of you do whatever it is you do around here that makes you look... useful." He quickly snaps before another cop raises his voice "And if any of you have a question why I don't want you there..." he glances through the faces. Ah... there's one of them from the warehouse a few nights ago, that should keep them busy "You can ask him about the warehouse Maxi-Million was in, and explain why he was there before our stopping the party." That should solve that problem. He turns and says in an aside "And if one of you featherbrains think you can fly along and follow, I will spot you, and I guarantee then you can NOT fly faster than me." And he steps out the door, walking down the street at a pace the other three can catch up to him.

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MorningGlory.png

 

Morning Glory let out a sigh of relief.  Thank goodness somepony had an idea of what to do.  She gave one final hungry glance back at the kitchen, her stomach rumbling, before turning to head off with Captain Nightguard.

 

And then her wings flared and her head snapped around at the police officer who delivered that phrase.  She herself had once been ignorant of the insult that 'bat-wing' represented to the thestrals - a week training alongside them had cured that misunderstanding.  The officer's tone suggested he was not ignorant, he was just baiting the Captain, trying to get a rise out of him.  And Captain Nightguard swallowed the bait, delivering an insult right back that got Morning Glory's wings flaring and briefly making her feel angry right back at him.

 

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and let out a little humming noise.  "hmm hmm hmmmmmm..."

 

I'm calm, I'm calm, I'm perfectly calm.

 

What's wrong?

 

Oh, just... well, it's... it's a pegasus thing.  Trust me.  Could you give me that 'authority of age' thing again?

 

Morning Glory opened her eyes, feeling that weight of decades of experience mixing with the fierce passion and righteousness only the young could muster, and stepped up in front of the officers who were looking ready to start a fight, glaring right in the face of the one who had first spoken.  "You!" she said flatly, the rage still evident bubbling under her tightly controlled voice.  "If you're not going to respect the work he does for this city, or the help he's trying to do now, can you at least respect the uniform you wear?"  She thumped her hoof - oops, a bit hard - against the officer's chest, knocking her down on her rump.  "Where you go, other ponies will follow, thinking it's all right.  By the flame, mare, do you WANT another age of the Windigo on us?  We already lost the Empire!"

 

She swept her gaze across the others angrily, and they had the good sense to fidget and look down at the ground, abashed.  Perhaps a bit sullen, but that was to be expected.  "That's right.  Now, I have to go scold him a little for his crack ..."  She let her voice calm down a little.  "But I promise I'll keep you all updated as to what we can find, just as soon as I can."  She gave a much gentler look to the Just Desserts, Cookie Crumble, and Cherry Top.  "We'll find her."

 

Her hooves grabbed hold of the back of Pagemaster and Stone Heart's garments, her wings spread, and she leaped into the air with a powerful downward thrust, dangling her two team-mates below her as she soared through the sky after Captain Nightguard.  Carrying two, even with her greater top speed, it took her a little bit to catch up with him.  Still, she could tell he wasn't going full-out.  "Hey, Captain!" she called, "Slow down a bit so this featherbrain can catch up!"

 

When she finally did pull up alongside him, she glared aside at him.  "Well, you let that jerk win.  She got what she wanted, which was for you to lose your temper.  Didn't we just have a conversation about someone having far too fragile of feelings for this line of work?  You looking for a bell to ring, there?  Remember that you're standing in for all the thestrals in this matter - you can't afford to lose it like that!"

 

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Despite the grumblies in her tumblies, Cherry Top couldn't eat. How could she even think about food here? Her baby sister could be out there somewhere, lost and alone, or worse! She couldn't bear the thought. Meanwhile, all the adults in the room kept flapping their gums about the party of all things! Or some super expensive toy from Hobby Horse! The furious filly had to try her hardest not to scream at them all for their priorities being askew! And that's another thing; where was her monster right now? She summoned the Masquerade fair and square, and yet it was putting in as much work as everypony else around here.

 

Honestly, she felt like crying again. Bittersweet was gone forever and it was her fault and there was nothing she could do a-

 

Boop.

 

Cherry Top blinked. And within that time, somepony had dolloped meringue on her nose? Who? She didn't see anyone.

 

Oh.

 

Thou art worried, child”, whispered a disembodied voice that could only belong to the spirit of theatre. She silently nodded in response, licking the sweet fluff off her nose.

 

As are they. Perhaps even moreso than thou. They do their best in their search, though you may not understand their methods. I ask that you be patient, and to put your faith in them. I have promised thou, we shall bring your family together again.

 

She nodded again, taking a tiny bite of her pie to appease her stomach, her nerves and her monster all at once.

 

Thank you. Now then. There seems to be a great fuss among your elders. If thou hast no objections, please tell this old ghost what the trouble is.

 

*~*

 

The Captain and the Princess together managed to leave Just Desserts's crew in an awful state. You could slice the awkward up and make a sandwich out of it, that's how thick it was. Some officers were trying not to make eye contact with each other, others were staring too much and one in particular (the Deputy Chief himself) was looking like he was about to scream the walls off his house. But just before he blew the biggest of gaskets on his officers, he was interrupted by a puff of black smoke.

 

There it was, the Masquerade. In the home of a commanding officer. None of us are safe, thought a few guilty consciences. Though all of them couldn't help but take a few steps back. Except, of course, for Just Desserts, stoic as always. Even as the spectre approached him, the two meeting eye to eye for the first time.

 

When law can do no right,
Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong

 

From the sleeve of his jacket, the Masquerade pulled a pea whistle. The standard issue kind that one of the officers here was now missing. Cue the lot of them all giving their own pockets a padding down.

 

Pocketing the noisemaker again, the specter bowed. Head to the ground and his cloak draped to curtsey. Not a jaw wasn't on the floor, except of course for...

 

I wanted to say. Thank you. For everything.

 

The Masquerade vanished after that.

 

*~*

 

The Hobby Horse Toy Company was the party's stop, as it was likely the only place in Thoroughbred where that music box had come from. The manufacturer and retailer was downtown, not too far from Grand Park, still a few blocks away from the really rich neighborhoods. As the four airborne ponies made their landing, they could see their friend Curtain Call standing besides a colorful cardboard cutout reading 'Closed'.

 

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Pagemaster found Captain Nightwing's response to his query more encouraging than his response to provocation.  Oh dear, this was the exact opposite of what this city needed right now!  Times were tough enough without tribal animosities being stirred up.  And from two cops, too!  Shouldn't they know better?  Doing this sort of thing was only going to increase their own workload, and with the nastiest possible cases, to boot.

 

Fortunately, at least one other member of the team was willing to speak up for Truth, Love, and Harmony.  "Well said, Princess."  He couldn't help dropping in the title; it was ingrained in him that alicorn=princess.  And right now, she was being the voice of unity in a divided company.  Of course, neither Celestia nor Luna would have picked him up by his suit jacket and whisked him off to a toy shop, but hey, all the more reason to increase the pantheon...

 

Setting down by the shop, the Bureaucrat resumed his mask, looking over the shopfront.  'Closed,' eh?  Well, just because it wasn't open for business didn't mean that nopony was home... The unicorn trotted up to the door smartly and gave a ringing rap to it with his hooves.  "You never know."  He said to Curtain Call.  "As the ancient texts say, 'Knock, and it shall be opened to you.'"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Racial and tribal tensions were nothing new to the former farmer; Dusty giving little more than a dissapointed sigh at the insults being hurled between the cop and Nightguard. Of course he understood how Nightguard must have felt... after all, Dusty very nearly sent Curtain Call's noggin flying clear off his shoulders and clear into the next county for his remark on the subservience of earth pony kind (even if it was all just an act), but even still... more important matters were at hand.

 

Still, Dusty was not one to let a friend be antagonized, and was ready to step in between the two before Morning Glory did it before them. Once again the Princess seemed quite ready to step center stage and talk sense to the crowds; a rare and valuable quality to have these days. Even still, though, the matter of the missing girl was to be taking precedence, and that incredibly advanced 'toy' no doubt had a part to play in it...

 

Dusty was not a particularly educated stallion, but he could tell that bit of machinery was not only uncommon, but damn near impossible for any average mechanic to create. While it was true that any sufficiently advanced technology was indistinguishable from magic, this was pushing it a great deal. If this toy shop had any indication on where it could have been made than it was the best bet... Dusty was ready to assume that perhaps the strange toy was the entire cause of the sudden sleep overcoming the party.

 

Lifting his staff without much word, the Dusty stepped out from the crowd (after the incident with Maxie Million he wasn't entirely comfortable around law-ponies for now anyway) before he was quite rapidly picked up by Morning Glory and hurled into the air along with Pagemaster.. once again feeling a tad bit silly for being carried in such a way.

 

"Consarned fancy flying folk..." He mumbled under his breath, as the crew just confined in their way; his hind legs dangling flaccidly in the air.

 

*-*

 

"Gimme a minute to catch mah breath, will ya?"  Dusty spoke through panting gasps as he lent on his staff; regaining his composure after the rush of air from the flight. Perhaps he was better suited to sprinting, vaulting, and leaping his way across the town; the skies were just not meant for a bulky stallion like him.

 

'Closed' hardly meant anything any more, as this was more than likely a facade to keep folks just like him and the rest of the group from sticking their snouts where they weren't wanted. Of course the presence of Curtain Call confirmed that not all was quiet on the Equestrian Front, and he stepped his hefty self up to the show-pony.

 

"So... ya'll need me to make a door?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Star Flight knew that the alicorn would catch up, his ear twitching a bit at her referencing herself to that terminology. He was about to comment to her but her scolding stops him, she can see him glancing long at her from the side, silently gauging her before looking ahead. He doesn't have an argument for her, so at this point it's easier for him to keep focusing on the mission. 

 

Upon getting to the shop, Nightguard wanted to remain secretive at first, noticing Pagemasters plan he quickly moves up and catches his hoof a moment, shaking his head a second, then addresses Dusty, they are not working as individuals, this requires a plan "No, I think it's best we don't damage the store yet, however if the girl is here, we can't take any chances of something happening... Stone Heart, make a run around back, make sure someone doesn't try to get out that way. Call and take chase if they do. If we yell for need of help, may need a back door in your own way." This is no cave, but then it's funny how many monsters seem like regular ponies he's gotten the practice buildings. He looks to Morning Glory "Go up above, make sure no one is waiting from upper floor or roof, pay attention to any movement you might see or hear. You're the only one of us with silent wings." he gestures to Quill "You, go ahead and knock on the door when we're ready. So far you've the most ability through the city than any of us. If something comes out on attack, bring up a shield and back away. I'll be behind and ready as your backup. If... it turns out not to be a thread, well you're the best at handling that." he looks to Curtain Call, all the abilities in this group are impressive, however one unique advantage comes with the theater pony from his days in the Night Guard "And this Masquerade... this makes you our important one now. I assume the way you got into the houses of the ponies you were terrorizing before is through teleportation. Go in, touch nothing, and wait a couple minutes. If you hear something, make sure you aren't seen. If someone is coming to the door to answer, come back outside and wait with Pagemaster. If something seems dangerous, come to u-" he pauses "No, go to Stone Heart, I'm sure we can hear him take down the door and react accordingly. But if you don't notice anything coming to the main floor, open the door for us. Oh, and do make sure the chime for the door won't happen before you open it for us."

 

He looks about them "We don't know if this is just a step on finding Bittersweet, or the goal for us. I do not want to damage an innocent ponies livelihood if we're wrong, frankly if that's the case, I want them barely knowing we were here. However, we will not give him a chance if he's the culprit? Does anyone have questions?" He only takes a moment to hear any arguments to his plan, then moves across the street where he can see and hide in the shadows and watch the front door and Masquerade, his cannons at the ready.

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  • 2 weeks later...

MorningGlory.png

 

Morning Glory rolled her eyes as Captain Nightguard ignored her.  Still, they probably did have better things to be doing just now.  Everypony made a mistake from time to time.  And a missing little filly was way more important.

 

She landed nearby, and nodded to the instructions.  She and the Doctor listened for a bit to the plan, and they agreed, silently, that they didn't have any additions.  "Good plan," she said, and then took to the skies, scanning the rooftops and ready for something to go wrong.

 

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Few ponies respond well to being physically interrupted.  Pagemaster was a little miffed that Nightguard had just wrist-blocked him like that, but the unicorn was at least willing to give the thestral enough time to explain himself.  It soon became clear that this was just a delay for coordination, which calmed him down.  "Right, captain.  We'll leave the tactical plan to you, until the point where all plans go out the window."  Which tended to happen pretty fast, all things considered.

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With a puff of smoke, the Captain’s plan went underway and the Hobby Horse Toy Company’s defenses were breached. Curtain Call was in, effortlessly. And in an instant, the actor willed himself to be unseen, waiting for the signal from his comrades outside.


In the meantime, the Masquerade took in the scenery. And he was impressed, from at least the perspective of his inner business pony. The floors were clean, shelves were fully stocked, and the hair had to it the distinct smell of cotton candy. There were vibrant colors from wall to wall, and not a single display looked unwelcome to either foal or parent. Playsets sat in full assembly, so that potential patrons could try before they buy. The model trains were in full operation, even at this hour; a magically made little toot-toot livening up the otherwise dead silence every few minutes or so.

 

It was as if, within these walls, the depression hadn't happened; that Nightmare Moon was just that, a bad dream.

 

Meanwhile, further in, the piece de resistance of Hobby Horse, planted proudly in the center of the store, was less a doll house and more a doll mansion. It, much like the automated music box that lead the merry band of do-gooders here, was also made with an improbably level of detail and craftsmanship. Every brick and shingle looked individually laid. Even the garden out front looked genuinely green and lush and alive. No wonder this place was doing so well!

 

Just who the heck was running this place? He was about to find out, because there was Quill Pusher knocking on the front door.

 

For a moment or two, Curtains heard... arguing? Yes, there were definitely two ponies having a minor spat. Nothing serious, he had to guess. Probably a family thing.

 

From a back room, out came a stallion, in no great hurry to get to the door. He was a skinny thing; the thickest part of him were the lenses of his glasses. His sky blue coat and shockingly pink mane were both stained black, because apparently the smock also wore wasn't doing its job of catching motor oil.

 

He-hello...?”, he said, the front door barely open a crack. Just enough to let himself be heard. “I'm v-very s-sorry but we're closed... W-we open at nine tomorrow so could you please-

 

He trailed off from there.

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The plan went off without a hitch, for once.  Quill Pusher had to deal with enough of Murphy's law in his day job, so it was nice to see that legal gentlecolt clock out for the night.  "Good day."  The Pagemaster tipped his bowler hat to the shopkeeper inside, the paper-mache mask signaling that this was a vigilante at work.  "My name is... well, you may call me the Pagemaster.  I'm here on investigation on behalf of the city police.  We were wondering,"  He magically produced a piece of wrapping paper, "If you could shed some light on the origin of this wrapping paper."

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Tinker Tailor”, was who he introduced himself to be. And he was polite about it, despite looking like scaling a volcano was less frightening than talking to a stranger. The grown stallion's words were barely above a whisper. Though his expression did lighten up a bit when presented with the swatch of paper.

 

Oh! Oh my, yes!

 

'Lighten' was an understatement.

 

That's our Royal Sisters design! Part of last year's Hearth's Warming collection! At the time, it was one of our most popular prints! But lately we've been having trouble selling the back stock! For obvious reasons, you see- MMPH!

 

From behind him, a rose colored hoof came up to silence the blabbermouthing. But there was no need for alarm, thankfully. A cheerful face was close behind.

 

What my husband means to say”, said the mare stepping out from behind the door; much more confident in her mannerisms than hubby, it seems. “is that the wrapping paper was made here, but it was ages ago. Discontinued, I'm afraid.

 

Her glasses looked like they were for reading; probably wouldn't be blind if she removed them, also unlike hubby. Her baby blue mane was tried back in a sensible bun, and a quill was safely tucked behind her ear.

 

And if I had to guess; my name is Patty Cake, by the way, I'd say it was probably found in a dumpster somewhere. Is there anything else you wanted to know... Pagemaster, was it?

 

(( There are two characters currently interacting with Patty Cake! Pagemaster, doing the talking! And the Masquerade, watching from the shadows! Is what she's saying true? Let's find out! Pagemaster has no ranks in Sense Motive, but has a whopping +5 to Wisdom! He rolls... 10! 15 in total! Seems legit to our city hall representative! Except... ))

 

Ye lie, hostess”, the Pagemaster heard, whispered secretly to him by their resident creeper.

 

(( Curtains rolled a 15, for 19 in total. Not enough to discern the the truth and accuse further, but enough to know they're trying to sell something. ))

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  • 1 month later...

Voices came from the front of the store whilst Dusty Roads remained at the back; guarding the exit lest any of the ones inside made any attempt to escape. Sometimes it wasn't always exciting, being the muscle of the group, when he couldn't help out with investigations, interogations, tracking and the like... but then, he was good at what he did and would rather have at least something to contribute to the situation.

It was just a shame that not all issues could be solved with bashing the problem repeatedly in the head with a giant, metal-adorned stick.

He paced, standing on his hind hooves and supporting himself with Twin-Iron's frame, mildly annoyed that nothing had tried to back out of the store yet. "Patience, Dusty... " he muttered to himself as he could listen in on the conversation at the front of the building.

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Pagemaster frowned a bit; the whisper of Masquerade in his ear had a tendency to irritate, much like the buzzing of an insect.  It made him doubt his own intuition and senses, which were telling him that these were simply honest and slightly nervous shopkeepers.  Would that have stopped him from questioning further?  Most likely not.

 

"Ah, so it is sold here, is it?  Well, I'm going to need to sift through all the merchant copies of your receipts for all sales of this item.  Official investigations must be thorough.  This may take some time, I'm afraid, so if you have any specific information that may speed the process along, we'd appreciate it.  For example, if you could remember the names and faces of the customers who purchased it most recently?"

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Patty Cakes's eyes just barely narrowed, only just hiding the daggers she was staring. All her years of working in retail have thankfully taught her how to control the death glare that so many customers deserved. Mostly. She wasn't perfect, and sometimes, against a particularly strong aggravation, the hate peeks through. Like now, for instance. But, as she's done hundreds of times before, she swallowed that anger and put on a nice big smile.

 

Oh, I'm terribly sorry! Yes, of course.

 

The doors were shut again, but only momentarily. Every hero within earshot could hear the clanging and clattering of heavy locks being undone. Many of them. Apparently Tinker Tailor and Patty Cake were concerned about security. When the final deadbolt was unlocked, the thick wooden doors were thrown open with nary a creak. The lights were turned on as well as a courtesy.

 

Please, do come in.”, she said through clenched teeth. “And if I may be so bold, may I ask what the nature of your investigation is?

 

~

 

The alley way that Hobby Horse's back entrance lead into was, unsurprisingly, uneventful. Although Dusty was diligent in his patrolling, he could only dig through a dumpster full of shop class scrap so many times. Even the rats became entertaining. And from where exactly did they get their tiny little cakes from?

 

Just when the boredom was about to compel him to ask, the stallion caught something lurking. It was definitely there, darting from shadow to shadow. And it was definitely bigger than a rat. Somepony was here, watching him.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

MorningGlory.png

 

It seemed that everypony in Bravado's life had always told him to develop his patience.  His coaches told him he had to wait for the right moment - not just dive right into every play.  His teachers told him he needed to stop jittering in class.  His parents told him to wait til he was older.

 

Therefore, not wanting to invite yet another lecture on patience from ... elsewhere ... Morning Glory composed herself to rest patiently on a cloud floating inconspicuously right over the center of the shop, where she could watch all approaches and every side equally, although the height of the building itself obscured half the streets right along it.  She could wait here all night.

 

Will you stop jittering so much?  Have a little patience!

 

I'm being perfectly patient, oh my gosh!  Can we not do this?!

 

Goodness, what did I say?  No need to bite my nonexistent head off.

 

Morning Glory steamed silently in her own head for a moment, trying not to respond.  Focus, focus, watch the streets, don't get distracted.

 

Wow, clouds are really comfortable... why do we have a bed in the dorms instead of one of these?

 

Sigh.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dusty's head darted in the direction of the strange, shadowy figure darting between the patches of shade along the alley's edges... his hoof immediately grasping to Twin-Iron as his hind legs supported his body once again. He stood carefully, staring in the strange figure's direction, advancing on what he had seen carefully and cautiously; the slight alleyway breeze catching his rugged mane.

"...whos'ere?" his somewhat slurring accent questioned into the darkness; dark green eyes peering out from the shadows of his ten gallon. Of course he couldn't be as stealthy as his shadow-dwelling companion, given the bright blue in his garment the Masquerade had so generously made for him.. but even then, perhaps announcing his awareness of another presence would alert and detour it. Maybe.

If not? Well, he was getting bored anyway.

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